Cleaning Up Your Online Image on Social Media Networking Sites

If you are on the prowl for a great new online job, you are probably working on getting your resume brushed up and improving your skills so that you get noticed among all the other job seekers out there. Unlike searching for a brick and mortar job where people can meet you in person, you only have one chance to make a first impression and it’s through the image that you present to others via your resume or other online information about you. Have you considered that the image that you are presenting to the rest of the world, including potential employers, may be working against your efforts because of some of the profiles you have on social media networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter or even your personal blogs?
While many of the social media sites are there for personal fun and networking, there are many employers out there who are also represented. It’s not uncommon for hiring managers or human resource people to come across interesting profiles and invite other members to learn more about career opportunities. It’s also not uncommon for them to do their research there to find out more about job applicants, although the legality of this is often questioned. In a recent study conducted by the SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management) an estimated one-third of all human resources managers use some type of social media network to recruit and research potential employees. (HR Magazine, Dec. 08) So when employers are searching for you online, what will they find? Hopefully nothing that will embarrass you or negate from your value as a potential hire.
Here are some tips to help you put your best face forward and help you get started on cleaning up that image on all the social media networks you belong to:
  1. Remove any and all embarrassing photos or videos of you online. While it may be amusing to your friends and family, it’s not very flattering to your image.
  2. Create accounts, profiles and email accounts with mature sounding names. Avoid the following words: sexy, sweetie, baby, stud, crazy, lover, or any other words that sound immature or sexual in nature.
  3. Be careful what you post online under your name. Do a quick Google search to weed out any posts on forums or networking sites that are offensive. Likewise, stop posting personal things about your life unless it’s under a fictitious name.
  4. Develop a nice blog or website dedicated to your job search. On there, post a confidential resume (leave off personal information like address, phone numbers, etc.) and examples of your work portfolio. Leave off the cutesy pictures, music and themes – make it as professional as possible.
If you work hard to improve your image online, you should start to get better results when you do your job search. Be sure to use the social networking sites to let others know you are searching for a great new online job and see if you can establish any networks with companies that are hiring in your industry. There are a great number of resources you can tap into on the Internet and social media networking is one of them.
Reference: HR Magazine (reports readable by SHRM members only)

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Tess C Taylor

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