Looking for work in the digital age is a lot more complex than you might expect. In years past, all it took as a polished resume and a review of the most common interview questions. Now, with everyone having a Facebook profile and an online footprint, you have to clean up your past a little as well.One of the newest elements in the arena of job hunting has been the growing prevalence of Internet background checks performed by potential employers. Most people have a footprint online, whether it’s a social media profile or a high school blog, and the information found therein can provide fodder for hiring managers.
It’s critical that anyone currently looking for work take steps to ensure that the results of a web search of their name won’t lead to information being uncovered that could hurt their chances of employment. Just think of the pictures of Michael Phelps with a bong, how many of those types of pictures are in your Facebook profile?
Ultimately, this isn’t that much different than the business of online reputation management – what companies use to clean up their web profiles (listen to NPR long enough and you’ll hear ads for this). As sexy as the term sounds, it’s really not that hard to do yourself and here are a few suggestions:
Google yourself: It all starts with this first step. Type your full name into Google and see what pops up. Then include the city you live in, the name of the college you attended, and any other details potential employers may know about you. This allows you to see exactly what they would see if they conducted a similar search, and can help you decide what to do next.
Secure your name.com: The first thing employers will do is Google you and, as anyone with web search experience knows, nobody really takes the time to look through more than the first five or so results. By buying the yourname.com domain if it’s available, you can usually secure the top spot of any Google search of that name. If it’s already taken, however, it’s worth checking to see what’s there to make sure it isn’t anything harmful to your image.
Perform a social network sweep: This should be instinctive to anyone wishing to improve their online image. Increase the privacy settings on Facebook, review your Tweets over the years, and genuinely take steps to make sure the social network identities associated with you that can be found do not contain anything negative, questionable, or overtly offensive. These are the places that employers are most likely to look to get detailed information about potential employees. If you can find it in 10 minutes, so can your future boss.
Sign up with all available social networks and social media accounts: This may seem counter-intuitive given the ostensible risk of such profiles harming your online reputation, but acquiring an account with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Google+ will help you by taking the space of those first results slots that come up after a Google search. Make the effort to update them weekly though, or else they will drop from these top spots.
Maintain a positive presence both on and offline: Being a good person in real life and resisting the urge to turn into a keyboard warrior on the web will ultimately be the best thing you can do to ensure a respectable online reputation. Others won’t be motivated to spread negative information about you online, and poorly thought-out online actions won’t be regretted when the job hunt starts.
Managing your online reputation is a necessary mechanism in the modern job hunt. But making sure your online image will look flawless upon investigation by a potential employer isn’t as hard as it sounds. Just by sticking to tactics listed above you are sure to see a stronger online reputation as a result.
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