The necessity of Googling yourself
With the use of Facebook, Twitter and possibly LinkedIn as part of most people’s daily interactions, it’s no wonder that prospective employers are checking out the online presence of their candidates. But what does this mean and how can you pass the test?
A Harris Interactive 2011 survey showed 37% of employers are already using social media to screen potential employees. That was two years ago: since then there has been an explosion in social media, so just imagine how many are using this technique now.
Keeping your social media presence clean is something that Paris Brown, former Teenage Police Commissioner for Kent, found out all too easily. She resigned due to media pressure after inappropriate tweets – from between the ages of 14-16, not just recent posts – were found on her account.
This demonstrates how it’s not just your current media presence that can affect your job prospects. Old photos, comments and posts can have a bearing on the impression potential employers will have about you. What you put online, stays online. If you’ve deleted it, that doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. So what can you do to sort this out?
Find yourself online
Do what employers do: Google yourself. This will bring to light a range of photos and activity you may have completely forgotten about. When you have found these, it’s time to set to work.
Firstly, there is the most obvious thing: delete old photos and comments which may put you in a negative light. If you think your previous online presence is too incriminating altogether, there are even ‘online reputation management’ companies you can hire to clean your social media history altogether – but this is a pretty drastic action. You should be fine with simply setting your privacy options to the highest level, and ensuring your public elements are acceptable. This includes locking your Twitter account to only accepted followers – something many forget to do.
Secondly, you might also want to lock who can post on your profile. It’s all very well if you keep your comments perfectly acceptable to anyone snooping on your profile, but this can all be ruined by friends tagging you in photos or posting on your wall about your latest adventures. The whole point of social networking is just that – a network. So be careful about who you are associating with and what they can link back to you.
It’s not all doom and gloom
Keeping your online presence clean doesn’t have to mean being boring. Employers are searching you because they are interested to find out who you are, and whether you fit into their company culture. The odd photo of you holding a glass of wine is fine, as long as they aren’t your only photos. Involvement in social activities – such as sports clubs or community ventures – will also go down well.
Having an online business presence, such as with LinkedIn, shows that you are committed to developing your career. Social media can be used for the positive elements of jobseeking, and your online presence can be just as important as your interview technique. Keep it clean, but don’t feel this means taking out everything about your life that could be of interest to employers who want to know who you are, rather than what you can do (although if this includes downing three shots at once, perhaps not).