Take Control of Your Online Identity – Get Defensive

We’re seeing statistics every day showing how often employers look to social profiles of potential hires. More importantly, we’re seeing the positive – and negative – effect your social profiles can have on hiring decisions. Knowing this, do you really want to leave what employers see about you to chance? It’s time to take control of what is found about you!

Get a little defensive:
A big part of taking control of your online identity is managing what information is available for employers to see about you.

  1. Google yourself
    If you aren’t already in the habit of Googling your name, you should start now. Google your name and the different variations of it every few months. Don’t just perform a web search, do an image search, too. And while you’re at it, search blogs, news, and all the other options Google offers for performing a search. Even better, set up a Google Alert that will email you whenever instances of your name are indexed by Google.
  2. Dealing when private becomes public
    What happens if you find information about, or photos of yourself online that you would rather not be public? Your first action should be to contact the site’s webmaster to request that the information or photos be deleted. If the material is on a social site, such as Facebook, you can ask the person who has posted the materials to either delete it or change the audience settings so it is no longer viewable by the general public.
  3. Be consistent about what to keep private
    Whether you use blogs, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube or other social site, get familiar with the various privacy settings available to you. A recent survey showed that the types of updates that were potentially the most damaging to your job search were ones that cited the use of illegal drugs, were of a sexual nature, depicted alcohol consumption, or used profanity. Employers also looked negatively on social profiles that contained grammar or spelling errors. These types of posts are definitely ones to avoid!
    I’m not going to tell you, however, never to post pictures of yourself having fun with your friends or never to share personal updates on your social profiles. After-all, part of the fun of a social network is the ability to share personal news with friends and family. The key is to ensure that you are using the appropriate privacy settings so the general public is less likely to stumble upon your private posts.

So far, we’ve talked about taking a how to take control of your online identity by taking a defensive approach. However sometimes, the best defense is a good offense. In part two, we’ll be exploring how you can go on the offensive.

Have you ever Googled yourself and found information that upset or surprised you? Tell us your stories in the comments.

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