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Social Media and Your Job Search

Is your Digital Footprint leaving dirt behind?

Do you remember the early days of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace etc. etc.? Uninhibited, we ranted and tweeted what was on our mind, uploaded party pictures or posted comments that today, we might not be too proud of. Rather naively, we believed that only our “friends” or people that wanted to be our friends would see this stuff. After all, we used the right privacy settings. Besides, they “get us”. No harm done. Right?  Wrong.

As a career coach, I help job seekers create and manage a professional and authentic career image. Even before we tackle the resume, we will check your digital presence for “digital dirt”. This is the not so flattering picture or unprofessional comment that may cut your chance at landing an interview or a job. Most employers are going to conduct an internet search on your name, even before they decide to contact you. You need to know what they will have access to and what they will find when they Google you. Here are some tips to help you identify and clean up your “digital dirt”:

  • Use a variety of search engines to see what turns up under your name. Although Google is the most prominent search engine, use others. Also, search using your nickname and a common misspelling of your name. My colleague Karry checked her name using the spelling: Carrie, Kerry and Kary when she did her search.  Surprising what she found out about herself and another Karry with the same last name!
  • Check your Facebook privacy settings or other social media sites you use. Limit what can be viewed publicly. These sites often change the setting policies and you must opt for them. Also check how others can view your profile. This is a great feature on Facebook.
  •  Hide your wall – remember, you can’t control what your friends write about you. Remove any comments or images (pictures, videos) that you would be embarrassed to share with a prospective employer – or your grandmother- even if you think they can only be viewed by friends. Again, a friend may inadvertently compromise your privacy.
  • If you are updating your LinkedIn page, take it down, complete the “make-over” and re-launch it. Make sure that the basic details on your resume and LinkedIn profile match – dates, company names, job titles, education, community involvements. Remember – employers will compare.
  • Ensure your LinkedIn profile picture is business appropriate.  Dress as you would to an interview and have a neutral background.  There has been some debate on whether to have a picture or not.  Most business professionals agree that not posting a picture seems like you have “something to hide”
  • Seek the objective perspective of a mentor or career coach. They will be able to offer a critical review of your online image and make suggestions. In other words, they will act like an employer or your grandmother!

Social media can provide you with opportunities to create the professional contacts you need to land your next great gig. We just need to adapt a vigilant, thoughtful and common sense approach to everything we post online. This is the digital job search landscape!