Your online presence reveals a lot to people who may make decisions about your future. All the photos, videos and comments you and your friends, family and co-workers post about you? They’re part of your social media identity.
Why should you care? Many employers say they use social media to find out about job candidates. Hiring managers often report finding images or comments that cause them to not hire the candidate. By taking charge of your online identity, you can guide your future.
Pause, think, post!
Once you post something online, it can fly halfway around the world to land…anywhere. Even if you delete after posting, someone could have made a screen grab. Keep these tips in mind before you press post or publish:
- Choose your online words and images wisely. Assume that the whole world—including future employers—can and will see what you post online.
- Select your social media friends with care. The details they share about you could damage your reputation.
- Think about the online activities and groups you choose to join. You’ll be linked to their actions and comments when you are searched online.
- Use the privacy settings to control what others can learn about you. You can decide who can access your profile and which parts of your profile they can see.
- Separate your work life from your personal life. Have one profile for your professional network sites. Create a more casual profile for sites your friends and family visit.
- Proofread the wording on your profile or ask a trusted friend or family member to do so.
- Follow the same etiquette when you network on social media as you would when you network face to face
- Set aside time regularly to update your profile and reflect your resumé. All of your social media sites should have the same information about you.
Manage what others post
Your old high school buddy may decide that a wild party shot of you needs to go up online. That’s why it’s a good idea to search your name and nicknames online regularly. You’ll discover what potential employers can see. If you don’t like it, try these tips:
- Ask friends or family who post unsuitable photos or details about you to remove them. You can also request that they change their privacy settings.
- Untag yourself in inappropriate photos on others’ posts.
- Be more active in social media to offset negative details with positive information about yourself. The tips in the next section can help you boost your image.
- As a last resort, contact an identity management company to help you handle your online identity. Use a search engine to find one.
Project a positive online identity
The more positive posts you create on your social media, the lower any negative details about you will drop in search engine results. Try these tips:
- Link from your social media profiles to the web pages of any positive groups, teams or projects you’re involved in.
- Promote projects online that relate to your work or volunteer pursuits. If your work or volunteer group has no rules about promoting yourself, include your name in the details.
- Check out a blog or online community for several days before posting your own comments. Develop a feel for the content, tone and audience. When you do respond, your comment will be more effective.
- Steer clear of blogs and online communities about sensitive topics, such as politics and religion.
Your social media identity can affect your reputation and career. By managing your online presence, you can ensure that your social media will set you up for success.