Managing your online presence
In today’s ultra-wired and wireless
world, the ease with which we can
quickly research anything — or anyone
— is a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, Web searches of prospective employers quickly yield useful information, and networking sites and community groups allow people to connect and share their expertise. On the other hand, privacy has become obsolete. “The more information there is online, the greater the chance that someone will see something you don’t want them to see,” says Adam Mesh, MBA ’07, vice president of HR at Korn/Ferry. “It could be a picture on Facebook, a tweet on Twitter, or something a search turns up.”
So, in today’s career environment, it is imperative to carefully manage your online presence. “Anytime you speak with anyone, they will Google you,” says Susan Kendrick, business research and data librarian in the Johnson Management Library. “When they do, at least the first page of hits should all be positive,” says Kendrick, who will present on this topic at Reunion.
The Internet is like a giant amplifier, magnifying and broadcasting everything we do online to the general public, and can be used to positive or negative effect. Kendrick gives examples of both. On the positive side, she mentions a student interested in venture capital who carefully followed venture capitalists’ tweets. When he started posting his own well-written comments, recruiters took notice, and he was quickly hired. As an example of what not to do, “Just Google ‘Lindsey Stone,’” advises Kendrick — the name of a woman who posted an irreverent photo of herself on Facebook. As a result, she lost her job and ignited a firestorm of outrage across the Internet. More than a year after the fact, the search term still pulls up mostly bad press.
Although not as damaging as prank photos or posts, carelessly managed listings can raise prospective employers’ eyebrows. “If I see your LinkedIn hasn’t been updated in a while, that makes me wonder, ‘Why?’” says Kendrick. Mesh points out that a discrepancy between a résumé and a LinkedIn profile can give employers pause.
Be sure to take care of your appearance on all the sites you’re on, says Kendrick. “And if you had a blog but are no longer posting, then post that you’re ‘moving on.’”
Mesh and Kendrick offer a few tips for online persona management:
- Google yourself and familiarize yourself with the first ten pages of results.
- Ensure your LinkedIn profile has a professional photo, matches your résumé, and contains industry- and profession-specific keywords. Solicit LinkedIn endorsements and recommendations from valued colleagues and clients.
- Consider Twitter for an easy way to blog without running a full-fledged blog.
- Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see. Consider using a service like reputation.com to enhance your online presence.
- Don’t “friend” co-workers on Facebook — you don’t want people at work to see your personal life.