Make sure your online image helps, not hurts, your job search.
It used to be that employers only had resumes, cover letters, and interviews to go by when making hiring decisions. That changed with increased use of the Internet and social networking. Many employers check profiles on popular online sites before making interviewing and hiring decisions. And some posted material can leave employers wondering what type of employee you would be. This includes:
- Inappropriate photos, such as photos of you and your friends drinking or wearing inappropriate clothes
- Inappropriate comments by your friends - remember you can delete comments under your photos
- Discussions about alcohol or drug use
- Talking poorly about previous employers
- Discriminatory comments, for instance, using slang terms for racial or ethnic minorities
- Lying about qualifications
- Sharing confidential information about past, current, or prospective employers
Your online identity can help or hurt you. If an employer is considering you seriously enough to research you online, make sure that your own words or photographs don’t come back to haunt you. Do an online search of your name to see what information and/or images of you come up. This will help you catch potential red flags.
Clean up your online identity. Don't list personal information or post comments, photos, or videos that you wouldn't want an employer to see. Think of everything you put online as public information. Remove any swear words, gripes about old employers, or discriminatory comments.
Create a professional online identity. Join LinkedIn and other online professional groups that are related to your career or industry. Ask someone to “recommend” you on LinkedIn. Create an online portfolio using work samples to market yourself. Blog about your professional interests.
Be choosy about who you “friend”. Your profile may be squeaky clean, but make sure you don’t suffer from guilt by association.
Check your grammar, spelling, and writing. Many employers reject job applicants because they show poor communication skills. Consider your online presence as part of your portfolio. Read through any of your postings to catch errors.
Your resume, your elevator speech and your online presence are all elements of your brand. Make sure each component reflects a positive image of you! Your brand should reflect your skills and accomplishments, while also reflecting the type of job you hope to get.
- Resume: To get help revising your resume or to have it reviewed professionally at no charge, visit your local American Job Center.
- Elevator speech: Practice it with friends and family so it will flow smoothly when you network and talk with employers. When you describe yourself, rather than saying you are unemployed, talk about your efforts to put your skills to work.
- Your online presence: LinkedIn is a great place to let your network and potential employers know you are available and ready to work. Consider asking a friend or valued former colleague who is on LinkedIn to “recommend” you. Check your Facebook profile and posts to ensure they are in line with the professional brand you are building. Google yourself—and clean up any negative reflections on your character.