Showing up for a job interview looking polished and being articulate are no longer enough. Today you have to manage more than your resume if you want to get ahead in your career. Your online reputation (from Facebook to LinkedIn to Twitter) also plays a role in how people (i.e., potential employers) perceive you and your ability to get the job done. Worried? Don’t be. We have some tips to help ensure your online life is consistent with your offline life and show you in the best light possible.
Why care about what’s online?
Have you Googled yourself lately? A recent report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that many people have. Fifty-seven percent of adult internet users surveyed said they have used a search engine to see what kind of information was available about them online, up from 47 percent in 2006. If you did search for your name, what would you find? How you represent yourself online is just as important as how you do it in person.
If you run a business, have a website, provide a service or otherwise need a base of customers or readers to sustain your business, you’ll want people to find you. So if you’ve never thought about what might appear in the search results when the topic is you, it’s time to put some stock in your online reputation. How you appear online is people’s first impression of you. How do you want to be perceived? Are you proud about what sites and articles appear under your name in search engines? You should if you want to build a business or get a job.
Consistency is key
In order for people to find you online, you need to be consistent. Wherever you are online (personal blog, business website, Twitter, etc.) should all have consistent names. If you start a website or blog under your full name (yourfullname.com), do the same for your social network profiles (i.e., twitter.com/yourfullname, facebook.com/yourfullname).
Being consistent allows people to follow your digital tracks and not get confused. It also re-emphasizes your brand when people see the same picture, name and positioning on every site.
Be mindful of what you do online
If you have a personal social network profile, know that some of that information may get leaked in the future. In order to avoid the wrong person stumbling onto that photo of you with a lampshade on your head, do some preliminary damage control.
- Delete any photos of you that might send the wrong message
- Go through your friend’s photos (on Facebook, etc.) and request they delete any you aren’t comfortable sharing.
- Going out for a night on the town? Pretend you are a famous person who hates the paparazzi — say no to all photo requests.
- Set strict privacy measures for your personal ones so they aren’t searchable by others and so that people can’t even see your profile picture.
Keep it up
Now that you’ve ensured any searches for you won’t result in your good name being sullied over an incriminating photo you didn’t even know was being taken, you’re ready to build a positive online presence. There are a few things to consider:
- Make sure it’s easy for people to find you, be it a potential customer or someone who wants to hire you.
- Ensure what they find is a positive representation of who you are and what you offer.
- Offer information that is useful via social networks or personal or business sites. This means linking to interesting articles on Facebook, tweeting about items that your followers will find relevant and interacting with blogs or websites that are in some way associated with your career or career goals.
Have you Googled yourself lately? Were you happy with what you found? Share in the comments below!