If job applicants do not have an online presence, it can be a red flag to potential employers. And don’t think a potential employer is not going to check out your Facebook page and/or Google you. Teachers need to teach students how to develop a positive digital footprint. A digital footprint is the information that can be found out about a person by simply Googling their name.
Many are saying that your digital footprint is now a postscript to your résumé. Social media are checked along with your references and according to some may be a better indication of the type of employee you will be. How do you clean up your image on the web and how do you create a positive online presence? Here are some suggestions. Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments section.
Ways to clean up your digital trail
- Delete photos and videos that would portray you in a negative light including pictures of you drinking it up at a party or poising in a bikini. Remember the problem is not only the pictures you post; you also have to worry about the pictures you have been tagged in.
- Unjoin any groups that might portray you as a racist, a drug user, or any other group that would have a negative connotation.
- Remove any angry or threatening updates or posts. Even if these updates were created in fun and not taken seriously by your friends, they may be interpreted in a different light by potential employers.
- Remove remarks about your illnesses. Considering information about illnesses in an interview is not legal, but disregarding this information once viewed will be difficult.
- Delete any photos of weaponry use that might indicate you are prone to violence.
- Remove any negative comments about a former boss, coworker, or employer.
Even though you take the above steps, there is no guarantee that the potential employer will not find negative information on you.
Some companies hire intelligence agencies to use advanced techniques to scour the web for information as far back as seven years. Anything that you post online has the potential of coming back to haunt you.
Only about one-third of applicants’ negative information comes from social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Negative information on applicants is mainly gathered from deep web searches and typically comes from personal blogs, comments on posts, Yahoo user groups, bulletin boards, and even Craigslist (Drucker).
Ways to create a strong and positive online presence
- Don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t want your future employer to see, or even for that matter, your mother. Anything you post online is public knowledge. It can become as public as putting the information on a billboard.
- Be careful who you Friend or Follow. Remember the old sayings that “birds of a feather flock together” or “lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas.” You can be deemed a bad apple by association.
- Create LinkedIn contacts and recommendations. Demonstrating that you are respected by professionals can go along way in creating a strong and positive online presence.
- Blog about your expertise in a subject area or about an interesting hobby.
- Show photos of charitable work or community involvement.
- Posts photos of your involvement in school activities or sports activities.
Keep in mind that on all social media sites including personal blogs, you are creating a public persona that may very well be viewed by potential employers.
Use common sense.
For Further Reading:
http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2011/0718/features-facebook-social-media-google-destroy-job-search.html (Kashmir Hill).
http://www.npr.org/2011/08/08/139021311/internet-footprint-driving-away-employers (NPR Staff)
http://www.noozhawk.com/business/article/111110_social_intelligence_corp (Kevin McFadden)
http://www.reputation.com/press_room/background-checks-now-include-twitter-facebook/ (Alan Farmham)
http://staffingtalk.com/social-intelligence-corp-helping-employers-monitor-social-media-activities/ (Regan Kohler)
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/21/technology/social-media-history-becomes-a-new-job-hurdle.html?pagewanted=all (Jennifer Preston)
http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2011/07/what_to_do_about_social_media.html (Jon Solomon)