With Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and a whole host of other social media platforms for people to join and post content to, it can often be hard to keep them free of candid images and posts. These posts can sometimes come back to haunt you, so what can you do to avoid such issues on the internet and also make yourself stand out from the crowd when it comes to your career or starting a business? Plusnet finds out…
Use social media to become an influencer
Social media provides great opportunities to share images, words and videos but these are not always suitable. A funny picture of your dog, your recent charity work or some good news is great to share – there is nothing wrong with being sociable and having some fun. But pictures after a heavy night out or sharing or retweeting content that could be taken in the wrong light won’t provide a great impression. So what can you do?
The ultimate ambition should be to change your online profile so that you become an influencer for your interests and hobbies. Comment on news in your interested field, share content with like-minded people, whether that is sport or stamp collecting. Take a look through your profile and use the untag function on content posted by others. Remove content you have published or added that doesn’t show you in a shining light and change your settings so that limited information is visible on your account if you are worried about what could be seen.
Joining professional networks like LinkedIn with information about you can also allow prospective employers to see information about you, your professional background and your education. If you are setting up your own business, this can provide you with a world of opportunity by connecting you to people in the same industry and use groups to share content and put yourself out there. Call it a virtual CV – it is your opportunity to sell yourself!
Pause for thought before posting
Whenever you post anything online, always make sure you do a double-take and re-read what you’ve written (unlike the person who tweeted this on the Chrysler Twitter account). From a personal perspective, a venting post about how you hate your previous or existing boss might get a couple of likes, but future employers might not see the funny side of this. You need only search for “fired because of facebook post” in a search engine to be presented with an ever-expanding list of people who’ve lost their jobs due to their lack of online sensibility.
Anything posted online – be it a photo, video or status, even if it’s only on for a short amount of time, can be captured and used against you, whether that can impact on you personally or professionally. So take a moment, read what you’ve written, and perhaps don’t post it if you have to hesitate for a moment.
Check and update your profiles frequently
When preparing for an interview, remember to refresh and update your profiles to show the latest information. HR managers have been known to check applicants’ Facebook and Twitter profiles before offering them an interview and some interviewees have even been asked to log into their accounts so that they can get to know you a lot more intimately.
Of course this is a good opportunity to stand out from the other candidates – if you post things relevant to the job you’re applying for in the run up to the interview, this could make you seem more interested in the position and also illustrate that you have done some background research into the niche or industry you have applied for.
Check your online footprint
Everywhere you go and everything you do online could potentially be tracked by your employer, especially if your name is more unique. Even if it is generic, it may not be too hard to find out small pieces of information about you. Googling your name should get a good overview of anything that other people might find. Using the Google Images tool will also give you an indication of the images out there. In Chrome, you can use the drag and drop function to check any specific images of you.
Social media accounts generally rank on the first page of Google along with Wikipedia pages (provided that you are famous enough to have one) and personal blogs. Google are trying to push people to join Google+, which is another social media platform that could be good to showcase yourself on, and which ranks well in search engine results. If you find anything that you feel has been used without your permission, then you could ask the webmaster or search engine to take it down.
Set up your own website
Setting up a website can be a great way of illustrating a willingness to put yourself out there, showcase any previous experience or work and show that you have extracurricular activities. With many careers and businesses now relying heavily on technology, showing you have some knowledge of the latest trends is advantageous on your resume. This is particularly important for anyone in a creative or niche field such as a photographer, artist, journalist or genealogist.
For a self-employed person, having a website will be single-handedly the biggest investment you will need (of time, not necessarily financial). With the internet being a significant part of our lives and advancements like Siri being available, it is important to give yourself an online presence and let people find you. Traditional methods of marketing or advertising still have a place in this world but it’s important to keep up with changes and the latest trends.
Keeping a simple email address
Your email address is an extension of you, and something you use to represent yourself. As such, it should be a formal, professional affair. xXx_MiSs_BoOtYfUl_xXx@… might not get the job, but Firstname.Lastname@… would stand a better chance and look much more professional in the process when employers sit down to look at your own CV.
From a self-employment perspective, it is better to separate both your personal and professional life by using separate accounts. Using an email address with the website’s domain is simple, easy and ensures that business enquiries are all kept together. The last thing you want to do is accidentally send something you shouldn’t to a prospective client or current client.
It’s important to remember that everything you do online can be captured and reproduced, so make sure that you’re happy with what you put online. Though things you rather wouldn’t appear next to your name can be returned in search engines, there are things you can do to get rid of them or make them appear on page two. Even if competition for your name is fierce, there are always things you can do to make yourself look more professional online. Setting up a website, being professional on social networks and making yourself more knowledgeable on a subject are all great ways to put yourself ahead of the competition – try one today!