Time was when applying for a job only involved turning in a concise and well-written resumé and coming to an interview dressed appropriately. You were judged on the merits of your interview answers as well as your educational attainment and extra-curricular achievements (for first-time job seekers, at least).
Nowadays, a meaty resumé and a winning personality are not enough to wow your future boss; your online persona has to be up to snuff as well. The way you behave online has also become a deciding factor in being hired or not.
Recently, for example, an American woman who was working in PR was on her way to Africa when she tweeted something inappropriate and racist before boarding the plane. In the short span of time between boarding and arriving in Africa, her racist tweet was retweeted, picked up by news outfits, and without her knowledge, had spread like brushfire across the Internet. A hashtag was created for her, which became a number one trending topic worldwide, surpassing celebrity heavyweights like Justin Bieber.
By the time she landed and found out, she was out of a job, having embarrassed her company which had no recourse but dissociate itself from her.
The example above may be an extreme case, but it shows how one wrong tweet or status update can cost you your job.
So before you start job hunting after graduation, check out these tips on how to make sure your online persona is as professional as your real self.
What are the first few entries that appear when you type in your name in the search box? Is it a link to a photo of you chugging down a keg of beer half-naked or of you accepting an award for best school thesis? If it’s the former, then it’s time to do a little cleaning up. If the photo belongs to you, either delete it, or adjust your privacy settings so that only you and a select few can see it. Creating a professional online persona does not mean scrubbing away your entire online history and personality. It’s just a matter of filtering your content and selecting your audience. Don’t just check the links that refer to you; click on Google’s “images” tab to see what photos of you appear when someone does a quick search of your name.
Back read tweets
Chances are, your prospective employer would not scour through your entire Twitter timeline (who has time for that?); still, take a hard, objective look at your tweets. Are you the aggressive type who rants against professors or rages at establishments that you think had wronged you? That kind of behavior may be perceived as combative and make you less likely to be hired. It may be a funny tweet, especially to people who know your sense of humor. But bear in mind that you are trying to create a great first impression, and 140 characters of vitriol could become 140 points against you. Delete these tweets or at the very least, make your account a protected one if you need to use Twitter as an outlet for your frustrations.
Adjust Facebook privacy settings
Restricting access to your Facebook account is not just so your ex can’t check on you—it’s also to help you create content for specific audiences. As your circle of acquaintances widens to include employers, colleagues and professional contacts, that jumping shot of you in a bikini just doesn’t seem like a photo your boss should see on his feed. Make it a habit to utilize Facebook’s detailed privacy settings and contact lists. Creating a contact list helps you easily select audiences who have access to certain status updates, photos, and shared links.