WARNING! Your future employer is Googling you. Believe it. More than 70% of recruiters admit to performing a Google search on candidates. What’s more, 40% said the things they learned online have eliminated previous candidates. That means your future supervisor is scrolling through your Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIN, and Twitter posts to see if you have the right stuff.
Have you ever written a review on Yelp or Google? They see that too. The more time you spend online, the more important it is to keep track of your digital footprint. Think of it like your credit score. One bad decision could cost you the opportunity of a lifetime and take an eternity to correct.
Google your name or email address. Do you like what you see? Every time you join a site, group, get tagged in a photo or mentioned, it creates a digital footprint. Much like looking at a timeline, your internet history can be traced.
You must be on the defense and protect yourself. Whether you plan to change jobs soon or not, there are five things you absolutely must do to protect your future job prospects.
- Get an Alias –Don’t use your real name when creating profiles on websites. Use a nickname. In the case of Facebook, where they require your real name, make sure you have your profile marked as private, viewable only by people you add as friends, and that you check your security settings regularly.
- Move Beyond ‘Private’ – Remember that even if you have your profile marked as private, photos of you tagged by others are viewable by the general public. Be sure to “un-tag” anything that you wouldn’t want your mother or potential employer to see. There is a privacy setting on Facebook that allows you to ‘approve’ anything before it gets posted to your wall or you can customize that setting as necessary.
- Think Twice About Online Forums Be cautious about what you say in online discussion forums, reviews or blogs. These too will show up in a search if they are attached to your real name. Be careful who you share your real name and identity with.
- Keep It Professional – At networking sites like LinkedIn where you want to use your real identity, keep it all professional. Don’t add vacation pictures, details about your personal life, or political/religious stances. Use these forums to highlight your professional qualifications, network with other professionals, and explore opportunities. On job sites like Indeed, use your email address as a primary means of contact, instead of your phone number and your address. Don’t divulge too much information on the web.
- Periodically Google Yourself – Google yourself every six months and see how “web proof” you are. If you don’t like what you see, take measures to correct it and prevent your web footprint from hindering any opportunities that might be waiting for you.
Jenny Nichols lives and works in Holly Springs, NC. She has advanced education in Higher Education and Student Development. Jenny holds National certifications for resume writing, editing, career coaching and facilitating career development. She is happy to discuss any feedback or answer any questions about this content. If you have any questions or feedback, please email Jenny Nichols at email@example.com.