I have been thinking more about the post that Julie of Writing Roads posted last week, “At the intersection of heartbreak street and internet avenue.” It was a post that reminded us of what’s at stake when we are involved with social media.
But there is more at risk than a bad break-up. It could cost you a job. I wrote about this topic before in the post, but I just wanted to expand on it a bit more.
The impact of social media on todayʼs job search environment is significant compared to say 2-3 years ago, particularly when it comes to the amount of information available for potential employers to “review” prior to selecting candidates.
Reversely, the availability of information on the web also makes it easy for potential employees to do research people before interviews. I can tell you that I have definitely done that for interview preparation. Furthermore, my first instinct when considering business relationships is to Google someone and see what comes up. For a lot of companies these days, this is something that is frequently done before hiring anybody as an employee, consultant, or contractor.
Anyone can easily find personal information about anyone else simply by doing a Google search. Social media has increased the proliferation of photos, personal stories, information about religious and political point-of-view, as well as sexual orientation and relationship status, things that a company is forbidden to ask, people, make widely available on the internet for free.
So what can you do to ensure that you manage your reputation, particularly if you are looking for work? Google yourself!
Go to Google and enter your first and last name in quotes, for example: “Andi Fisher” – this will narrow the results and only give you those two words (in this case, names) together rather than pulling up anything with either just Andi or just Fisher (plus those with both Andi and Fisher).
What comes up? Clean up whatever needs to be cleaned up, including old profiles you may have created months or years ago and then abandoned. Think about your tagging strategy for Facebook if you are in a lot of pictures, are they appropriate? Do you have a personal blog? Is the content appropriate for your profession?
Now what if you Google yourself and there isn’t much there? No worries…start building up your numbers by creating accounts on some social media networks, particularly LinkedIn if you are looking for a job. Post articles or comment on professional forums in your industry. Start a blog. This can be done slowly over time. This is an easier “problem” to fix than say your name was headlined in your college newspaper after you were arrested for hazing or something like that!
For all the freedom that we have in the United States, we sometimes pay a price. The privacy laws protecting data collection are much stricter in the European Union. Make sure that you Google yourself on a monthly basis. Do an audit on yourself and your reputation. Safeguard it and protect it for future employment, business, or personal opportunities.
No one else is going to do it for you, you must do it for yourself.