I recently “Googled” my name (It was a slow day in the office!) and found an assortment of results come up that I didn’t even realise were out there and visible to the public. Social media sites, registries I created, and websites that I’ve registered on and long forgotten about. When it comes to job searching, employers are now able to see more about our personal lives than ever before through the internet. This can either help or hurt us when it comes to applying for jobs.
It is said that an estimated 2 out of 5 companies search the online profiles of job candidates. As we use more and more social media sites and more tasks are accomplished online, this number is expected to grow. It’s important that we be aware of the fact that our co-workers, bosses and hiring managers are able to see certain things about us that we might not even realise. To be prepared, you should do a little research on your online profile and see which websites, profiles and forums of yours are visible to the public.
You should make sure that the online profile you portray to the public matches the image you want to present to potential employers, co-workers and supervisors. There are a couple of things you can do to help create the image you want to portray through your online profile. To start, you can review your privacy settings on social media sites and limit the types of information that is visible to the public or to members of the site you’re not connected to. Many sites now allow you to customise the people that can see your posts; however some online forums and web reviews are visible to the public so you should be aware of the things you write about that everyone can see.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy social media sites to share pictures and stay connected to family and friends, but be conscious of what you’re putting out there. It is becoming more and more common for individuals to create a personal profile as well as a professional one to categorise what types of information are shared with whom. Creating a separate professional account to social media sites, such as Facebook for example, can be a good idea and a way for you to maintain a professional image while also being able to use these sites for personal enjoyment. It will allow you to share things with family and friends without worrying about your boss seeing it on Monday or a hiring manager getting the wrong impression of you because he doesn’t know about your sarcastic sense of humor or an inside joke you have going with your friends.
On the other hand, your online profile can enhance your chances at a job if it demonstrates the skills and experiences you have that are related to the jobs you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying for a position as a web developer and your blog page is innovative and dynamic, this may show employers that you have what it takes. In any case, you should make your online profile what you want it to be and not what happens to pop up about you.