Put yourself in the shoes of an employer: you’re recruiting someone to join your company, you’re keen to learn as much about them as you can, and all you’ve got to go off is their CV. So what do you do? You Google them of course. With 60% of employers doing just that — not to mention the quarter who admit to having rejected an applicant on the basis of what they’ve found — you should be giving your online reputation (net rep) as much attention as your job search, CV and covering letter.
Whether it’s facebook, LinkedIn or twitter, most of us use at least one social networking site, and with the arrival of Instagram and Pinterest, they cover just about every area of our lives. Whichever social media you use, it can act as a brilliant tool for self-promotion — just as long as you’re promoting the right things; and while your facebook or twitter account might be personal, you need to think carefully about what you upload — or set it strictly to private.
Blogging is a fantastic way of connecting with likeminded people and talking about the things that matter to you; but if you’re writing under your own name, be mindful of your content. If you’re blogging about your day-to-day life, try not to criticise work (or the people you work with), and avoid coming across in a negative way. If a hiring manager finds your blogs and thinks that you’re always complaining, they may be a bit wary about your character. Of course, if you do blog about something work related, and think it adds something to your professional appeal, be sure to mention it on your CV.
Dealing with a bad net rep
The good thing about facebook is that comments, photos and status updates can be deleted. Twitter is a little trickier — you can delete your own tweets, but it won’t remove them from your followers’ feeds. If you’re worried about a tweet you’ve made in the past, the chances are that with so much fresh content flooding the site every nanosecond, your updates will be lost in the ether. LinkedIn also lets you remove comments and edit your profile, but forums or blogs — where you may have complained about customer service — may not; so in future, give some serious thought to what you’re posting. Your words may come back to haunt you.
Creating a positive net rep
If you want to craft an online reputation to be proud of, the best way is to get involved in online forums and professional networks — or simply by commenting on or contributing to posts from relevant companies or industry leaders. This gives you a great chance to demonstrate what you know, share valid opinions, and spark further conversation. It’s also a really good networking tool. And if you write articles, reviews and posts of your own, you might just find that you create a name for yourself as the go-to person for whatever topic it is that you’re passionate about.
Making your content appropriate
You usually have a gut feeling about which pictures and comments you should be posting and which you should be holding back, so follow your instincts. As a general rule, don’t upload anything that you wouldn’t want your mum to see. And if your friends post something about you that you think could damage your carefully constructed net rep, ask them to take it down. Of course when it comes to social networking, you might feel like you have the right to put whatever you want on there; if that’s the case, just make sure you set the strictest privacy settings.
The subtle art of networking
Once you’ve built a net rep that you’re happy with, you can start using it to its full advantage with a little networking. LinkedIn is useful for meeting new contacts and gaining referrals and recommendations, but approach this with as much thought and politeness as you would when meeting someone in the flesh — otherwise, all of your hard work will be for nothing. Following companies and individuals on twitter and facebook is another good way to get your name out there by commenting on what they’re up to, but again, be careful with those comments.
The internet has opened an overwhelming number of previously inaccessible doors to today’s jobseekers, but with pitfalls at every turn, it’s important to keep a keen eye on your online action.
If you need any additional advice when it comes to tailoring your net rep, we can help you to understand how employers think, what they’re looking for, and most importantly, what they don’t want to see.