For a lot of people, the start of a new year means hope for landing a new job. But if you aren't careful, there are a few wrong moves that can stop you dead in your job-hunting tracks. While social media platforms have become great tools for job seekers, they've also prevented a lot of people from even making it past the first round of a job application process. One online post that reveals you use foul language, or that you even may have questionable characteristics, can cause an employer to toss your resume and never look back.
Yes, we all know the Internet can be dangerous, but if you're careful about it, you should be able to enjoy social media and maintain a professional online reputation at the same time. So how exactly do you do that? We wondered the same thing, so we asked mobile and social media expert Jamie Turner to give us some tips on how to clean up your digital trail.
Q: A lot of people are looking for jobs these days. How important is it to have a good online reputation?
A: Studies show that many employers now screen prospective employees online before bringing them in for an interview, and many have rejected applications based on what they found. The bottom line is that if a prospective employer doesn’t like what they see about you online, they put your resume aside and go to the next one.
Q: What’s the best way to find out if you have a sketchy online reputation?
A: It’s simple – just Google yourself and see what you find. You can also do a search for yourself on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+.
Q: Should people not looking for a job be concerned about their reputations, too?
A: Yes. If you’re getting ready to meet your future mother-in-law, do you really want her to see your photos from spring break? And if you’re volunteering for a non-profit, they have an obligation to check your online reputation. Even if you’re going on a first date, you should have a perfectly clean reputation online.
Q: OK, how do you clean up your online reputation? Any tips?
A: For starters, never upload anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see. Second, delete questionable photos and untag yourself from questionable Facebook photos. And third, unfriend people you don’t want to be associated with – some employers make judgments about you based on who you hang out with.
Q: What about privacy settings on Facebook. Can those be used, too?
A: Definitely. You can select who can see your posts right where you post, so if you don’t want the general public to see it, select the “friends only” tab.
Q: What about LinkedIn?
A: LinkedIn is so business-focused. It would be unusual for anyone to have their party photos uploaded there, but it never hurts to check. And while you’re on LinkedIn, check their Help center for tips on managing your online reputation.
Q: After you’ve deleted photos and unfriended people with bad reputations, what’s next?
A: Re-visit all your online profiles to make sure they’re up-to-date. You can also buy a URL like FirstNameCity.com and upload a professional bio and photo to that URL. Or, you can write a guest blog post for a website so that that’s the first thing that comes up when people Google you.
Q: Is it possible to get bad information written by others removed?
A: It’s possible, but time-consuming and rarely effective. The best approach is to upload good content of your own, post things your grandmother would approve of and lead a good life.
For more of Jamie's tips and advice, check out his website!
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