Conducting a job search isn’t what it used to be! Once limited to the little time it would take to pore over the classified ads, look over a local job board and perhaps talk to friends and friends of friends, a job search today is essentially a full-time job. The internet has made it possible to search for jobs the world over, researching not only companies but entire industries in hopes of finding the ideal situation.
Online job boards, sites like Craigslist, and company websites all offer information available when you conduct a job search. However, to borrow from an old saying, ‘what the internet giveth, the internet can taketh away.’ While the web may allow you to conduct research about potential jobs and employers, it enables potential employers to research you. Will Google/Bing/other search engines reveal any embarrassing or personal information about you that might persuade a potential employer not to hire you?
You’re not sure, are you? Before you submit your next job application, then, we suggest you conduct your own “Online Image Audit” and clean up any dirt you may find there. How? Here’s how:
1. Clean up after yourself.
- Examine your online presence on whatever social networking sites (SNS) you use. Are the privacy settings you’re using really keeping your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+,and Pinterest accounts private or is it easy for someone to find you? Depending on how you use each SNS, you may want to keep certain ones private. Others you may want to be public. Adjust your privacy settings accordingly.
- First, remember that nothing you share on the internet is truly private and once it goes online, it remains there. Permanently. While you may trust those you share info with, you have no control over what they do with that information once they receive it.
- Audit your “friends.” No, really. How well do you know those Facebook friends? It’s risky to share personal information with people you don’t really know. Use the “unfriend” function judiciously. Trust us, you’ll feel better. Facebook popularity is overrated.
- Take a hard look as whether the image you are conveying online is the image you want your professional contacts to see. The world’s most professional LinkedIn page does you no good if your Facebook page has posts, photographic or otherwise, that call your judgment into question.
- Remember, the person hiring you likely does not share the same perspective you do about what is considered personal and what is considered business. A friend isn’t hiring you, a stranger is. Assume it’s a stranger with a very conservative worldview.
2. Nobody’s perfect.
- Accept the fact that your online image is not completely within your control. If you find a Twitter feed or Facebook post that doesn’t flatter you, take a deep breath and know that it happens to everyone.
3. Don’t be a tool-use them instead.
- There are many tools available that allow you to monitor cyberspace for UFOs (unflattering or false opinions). Google Alerts, TweetBeep, Kurrently.com, search.twitter.com and Boardreader all enable you to track online conversations about the keywords you choose (like your name) for rapid response.
4. Brand yourself.
- Your current online persona dictates the results people find when searching your name. Send those search results further down the page by creating your own online content that is consistent with the personal brand you want to convey. Blog about what interests you. Update your LinkedIn page. Comment on industry or company websites. Write. Write often and do so with an eye not only to burying the bad info but by enhancing your reputation as a go-to person for info. Do these things and search results will find what you actively create, rather than what has already been passively produced.
When you conduct an online job search, the employer also searches you. Are you comfortable with what they’ll find?
Conducting an online job search requires a strong online presence. Improve your online personal brand with this list of tips from the experts. Download the PDF now.