Your friends love you and call you “the life of the party” and laugh at your many exploits, but if your Facebook page looks like an excerpt from “the Life and Times of Charlie Sheen,” you may lose your one shot at your dream job. While your bosom buddies find your drunken poses and slurry posts entertaining, potential employers will toss your resume in the trash faster than Speedy Gonzales on Red Bull.
If landing your ideal career is more important than entertaining your friends, you will need to embark on some serious house cleaning and dust away those nasty online skeletons.
Google Your Name
Don’t send out another resume until you thoroughly investigate your own online reputation. Start out by searching for your name on Google, Yahoo, and Bing. If the first page, particularly the top five results, tells a less-than-flattering story, you have work to do.
The easiest way to remove an online skeleton from prying eyes is to bury it. This means creating good press about yourself and pushing the bad stuff down the search result ladder.
• Take charge of your name: If you want to gain control of your own online reputation, take ownership of your name. The quickest way to do this is to create a website under your name’s domain–for example, erniesmith.com. Odds are that this site will now appear in the search result’s top five.
• Social Media: Social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter rate highly in Google’s results. Opening up accounts on these platforms is another great way to conceal the bad and highlight the good. LinkedIn is noteworthy among professionals, making a polished and up-to-date profile an important weapon in your war against that skeleton-laden closet.
Monitor Your Feeds, Walls, Posts, and Streams
Everything that comes out of your mouth–or fingertips–on social media platforms needs to be “boss friendly.” In other words, if you’d be embarrassed to have your employer read it, it shouldn’t be there. If your Facebook wall is filled with references to parties or your Tweets contain language that would make Yosemite Sam blush, you need to give your “delete” button some serious exercise.
These are some of the things that will repel employers faster than the bubonic plague:
• Comments or photos that pertain to rowdy parties, sexual content, racial slurs, extreme political or religious viewpoints, foul language, or anything else that you wouldn’t show or say to your boss.
• Poor grammar, incorrect spelling, improper punctuation, and other evidence of faulty writing skills.
• Negative rants about other people, particularly former employers.
Remove evidence of any of the above from your social media feeds and de-tag or delete any compromising photos. Ask your friends to cease and desist from posting undesirable content on your wall and tagging inappropriate pictures. If you have a friend who fails to honor this request, you may need to ask yourself if they are really a “friend” at all–and delete them.
Now that you’ve removed the bad stuff, you need to begin highlighting the good–especially if, heaven forbid, your feed is now empty. In case you’re not sure what will dazzle your future employer, here are a few things that are sure to impress.
• Highlight your hobbies and interests.
• Make mention of any altruistic activities that you partake in like charity events, fundraisers, or feeding the poor.
• Celebrate accomplishments like running a marathon, completing a course, renovating a room, or having a paper published.
• Positive interactions with others that demonstrate your excellent people skills.
With a little hard work, common sense, and discipline, you can transform a closet full of bones into a cache of gems–and make those potential employers long to have you onboard.
What steps did you take to clean up your online image?
Kimberley Laws is a freelance writer and Career Counselor. She believes that since you spend eight hours a day at work, you’d better do something you love.
Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.