You Must Manage Your Online Presence If You Are Job Searching
Job seekers no longer rely solely on newspaper classifieds for job opportunities; instead, jobs are frequently found through online sources such as job boards. The ability to find jobs on any given day or time of week, as well as information about potential employers, is an obvious advantage. What job seekers must remember is that potential employers can learn about them by conducting a quick search on any search engine. What can be discovered is a digital footprint, which must be regularly monitored. If you don’t monitor your online presence and control how you interact with and participate in social networking websites, you could sabotage your career potential. While this is true for many people in careers where their online presence is scrutinized, it is especially important for those who are in the process of looking for work.
Leaving a Digital Legacy
Have you thought about how your online interactions, including what you post, can leave a digital footprint? Most people have a general understanding of what this means, while others fully comprehend its significance. What you post online may be discovered and viewed by people other than the intended audience, which could include future employers. As people post comments across multiple platforms, their online footprint expands beyond social media. This is not meant to minimize the impact of what is posted on social media, as many people are becoming very comfortable sharing a lot of personal details, views, opinions, and other details they would not typically share with an unknown person – say, someone they pass by in a grocery store. Sharing personal photos is another popular trend that can help you establish an online presence.
Your Presence Self-Assessment
If you are currently conducting or plan to conduct a job search, now is a good time to evaluate your current online presence. If you are an active user of social networking websites, you will need to devote more time to conducting a thorough assessment than someone who only interacts online on occasion. Begin by listing the websites that you have visited and interacted with the most in the last six months. Take some time to think about the types of interactions you’ve had, the blogs or articles you’ve commented on, and the posts you’ve made (in general) on social networking sites.
List the websites where you have uploaded and shared photos online. Do you have any initial concerns about how you have interacted with online websites and social networking? Do you have a habit of sending out highly emotional messages? What you need to figure out is how your online presence represents you. You can find out what is easily accessible by searching for your name in a search engine. You may need to try a few different name combinations and possibly narrow it down by location. The outcomes may astound you and/or serve as a wake-up call. What you discover during your search may also be discovered by a potential employer.
Management and Control Tools
The four tools listed below will assist you in developing a clear purpose for your online activity and in creating a positive representation of your career goals.
#1. Examine, Clean, and Improve:
The self-assessment provided above is the first step in regaining control of your online presence. This entails going over the comments, posts, and photos you’ve recently shared online, as well as those that appear in search engine results. Consider whether any of those items are potentially questionable, inappropriate, or create a negative image of who you are as a potential job candidate. If that’s the case, get rid of anything that isn’t in your best interests. Then, once a month, perform another search using multiple search engines. It is now time to work on improving your online presence after you have cleaned up your online activity. LinkedIn is an excellent resource because it functions as a virtual resume that can positively represent you if used to its full potential. You can, for example, join professional associations, ask colleagues and previous managers for recommendations, receive skill endorsements, add projects and classes, and so on.
#2. Maintain Control Over Your Brand
Your name is a brand, as are you. Consider the brands you know and what they stand for, such as quality, consistency, dependability, strong ethical values, and so on. That’s what you should do with your name: treat it as a brand and associate it with a career field, subject matter expertise, contributions to a specialized field, and so on. This will help you gain the attention of potential employers by demonstrating your interest in the field in which you want to work. For example, if you’ve worked on a project, you can include it in your LinkedIn profile. Google also provides a free platform for creating an e-portfolio, which can be used as another self-promotion tool if designed properly.
#3. Keep an Eye on Your Online Reputation
You must also manage your reputation in conjunction with your brand. To complete this task, think about what you want to be known for, because words and photos represent you. Of course, you are free to post whatever you want within the confines of the websites you visit, but will there be any risk to your reputation and/or career? That is the question you should be asking yourself as you interact with others online. This includes any affiliations or associations in which you are currently a member, as these memberships may appear in search engine results. You want to align your ethical standards with the goals you’ve set for yourself and your career as a whole.
#4. Create a Strategy for Your Online Presence.
If you are unable to remove any posts, photos, comments, or anything else online that could be construed negatively, now is the time to develop an explanation and have it ready in case you are questioned during an interview. The best approach is to acknowledge the question, then state what you have learned since then and the plan you have devised. The question now is, “What is your purpose statement?” If you want a place where you can post whatever you want or if you want to be less restricted, look for a less public social networking platform that allows you to set strict controls. However, as a general rule, you should always monitor your privacy settings to see if you have control over what is visible to the public. You can, for example, limit who can post on your timeline, what is visible to the public, and who can share what you post on Facebook. However, as part of your career strategy, you should keep an eye out for what potential employers can find and be deliberate in what you post on all websites.
Take the initiative now.
The tools provided appear to be time-consuming, and they will be until you have fully implemented a well-planned career presence strategy. Your online interactions and posts may not be easily found and viewed by others, and you may be unable to completely erase your digital footprint. What you can do now is accept responsibility for what you’ve posted and hold yourself accountable for what you post from now on. Make a career plan and make sure your online interactions are in line with your goals. For example, if you’re looking for a job and want to be perceived as a professional and ethical candidate, make sure your online presence reflects this. The words and photos you choose to share online have the potential to be seen by potential employers and represent you, regardless of what you intended or planned to do. Controlling your online footprint will almost certainly improve your overall job search by presenting you as a positive potential candidate.