What we get up to in our spare time is our own private business. Yet we often use social media to share our activities, photos and thoughts with our family and friends. As a result,we disclose sensitive information that we wouldn’t normally reveal outside of our closest social circles to the general public.
Whether you are using Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter or another social media platform, you need to think about who else might view your updates besides the people you think you are talking to. It is estimated that 60% of employers run Google searches on job applicants and over a quarter of HR professionals have rejected an applicant on the basis of what appears about them on the web. So Google yourself and see what comes up. It will give you a goodfeel for what other people may learn about you.
Follow our top 10 tips to ensure that your online presence won’t prevent you from getting your dream job.
Protect your privacy
You don’t need to abandon social media in order to present a professional digital appearance that is attractive to employers.You just need to review the privacy settings on each of the social networks that you use.
Once you’ve decided what you want to keep private on each platform, adjust the settings accordingly. Take the time to understand what each platform offers, the differences in access and which setting is appropriate for you. Many websites offer a ‘view my public profile’ option that allows you to see what others can see.
Keep up to date with privacy settings
It is essential that you choose a strong password for all your social media platforms and stay abreast of any changes to privacy policies. Even a simple policy change could result in a lot more information about you being made public.
Run a regular name check on yourself in the major search engines. You should also search under ‘images’ so that you can remove any pictures that you feel could be detrimental to your career prospects..The web has a long memory so don’t let a misjudged comment or photo discredit your reputation. You can manage your online mentions by signing up to Google Alerts for your name. This free and easy service and could be the difference between a good online reputation and a bad one.
Keep profile pictures appropriate
Your profile picture – and any updates, Tweets, or comments that relate to you – should always be suitable for everyone to see. You might not choose to use Facebook as a professional networking tool, but sadly Google can’t filter results according towho is searching for you. Not yet, anyway.
Finding opportunities and researching your market is a lot easier when your peers from school and university can find you.
Keep it positive
We all have bad days at work, but complaining about how much you dislike your job, your manager and the people you work with is not very professional. Neither does it paint you in a very good light, regardless of the situation.
Remember that the majority of the information that you post on social networks is public. Therefore your colleagues could see it. Stay positive, instead, and contribute information that your friends, family and connections would enjoy seeing. Here are some rules to bear in mind:
• Don’t get carried away by the banter on social networking sites and be careful not to get drawn into expressing views that you may later regret.
• Take care when updating your status. You may have had a difficult day, or a colleague may have upset you, but avoid making derogatory or personal comments.
• Think twice before posting embarrassing, funny or risqué photographs of yourself and/or your friends. If you wouldn’t display them at work, don’t display them on the web.
• Stick to the rules. If your employer has strict guidelines on the use of social media, follow them, and moderate your comments and feedback accordingly.
• Be careful about whom you criticise. Ten years ago, letters of complaint to organisations were private affairs. Today, many companies have comments pages and some individuals have established sites that are dedicated to criticising leading brands. While you may not presently wish to work for the organisation that you criticise, you could be insulting a customer or future employer.
There are many online resources that can help you to make new connections and further your knowledge. Join LinkedIn using the simple sign-up form, then search for groups in the directory. Once you’ve found a few groups, contribute to a discussion that is relevant to your industry – or make a name for yourself by starting your own.
Follow the right people
One of the best ways to create a good online reputation is to follow the companies, people and professional bodies that interest you. If you are trying to break into a particular industry, look for the key figures and top employers for that industry and follow them on Twitter, connect with them on LinkedIn and keep up with their blogs and industry commentaries.
Join in conversations
Following the right people is just the first step to building a great online reputation. To really get your name out there, you need to contribute to discussions with meaningful comments and opinions. Engage with the sort of people with whom you would love to work and keep a close eye on what different organisations are up to. If people start to recognise your name (for all of the right reasons), you might just get a glimpse of a few job opportunities – hot off the press.
Build your reputation with recommendations
One of the best things about LinkedIn is that it allows you to ask for endorsements from the people that you have worked with. These are displayed on your profile as a shining example of how great you are at your job. Some jobs are even filled through recommendations alone because the good word of a former boss, colleague or professor makes it easier for prospective employers to trust you. If you’ve done a good job for someone in the past, ask them to recommend you.
How to fix a bad online reputation
Comments that you have made online in the heat of the moment can be cleaned up. Some professional sites, such as LinkedIn and Xing, will let you remove comments or edit your profile. Facebook allows you to remove comments, but forums or blogs¬– where you might have complained about customer service, for example – may not. It’s often harder to remove a picture or video in which you’ve been tagged, so contact the person who posted it and ask them to un-tag you, or better still, remove it altogether.