Spring Clean Your Online Reputation
Spring is fast approaching, which means that spring break and college graduation are not too far away. Things could get ugly if your friends take photos of you acting foolish and then post them online for everyone to see.
Whether you’re searching for your next career move or are on the verge of graduation and feverishly sending out your resume, like it or not, potential employers are going online and Googling you. (Yes, Googling is considered a verb now.) Every time they find something online that is appropriate, they print it out and attach it to your resume. While I can’t confirm whether or not people are pulling your past and laughing at your expense, let’s just say I’d put money on it.
When was the last time you cleaned up your online (especially on social media) profile so that prospective employers can’t discover “bad” things about you? McAfee conducted a study, and the results show that 13.7% of people ages 18-24 know someone who was given the pink slip, courtesy of online postings.
Job seekers and upcoming college graduates take note: Difficulty getting or keeping a job due to negative social media content is a reality. I assure you anything on your social media profile that makes you look less than desirable as an employee, even an innocuous comment such as, “I always have trouble being on time,” can kill your chances at getting that dream job.
Tips on how you (the job seeker) can make your online profile look good:
- Don’t friend someone you don’t know, just so you can crank up that friend-total tally. (Wow, 8,000 friends! Really?)
- Don’t let anyone photograph or video you holding alcohol, smoking, being promiscuous or aggressive, shirtless, using vulgar gestures, or even doing something perfectly legal but stupid looking like the seflie fishy face.
- Don’t use offensive language online, even if your privacy settings are at the highest. If you really need to get your point across, use “fudge,” “freakin,” “effing,” etc.
- Don’t log on when your judgment may be compromised by raging hormones or alcohol/drugs.
- Don’t negatively comment online about any person in authority (your boss, former boss, parents, a political candidate). Exception: The object of your scathing remark is a puppy beater.
- Make sure your social network privacy settings are on high, but remember that this doesn’t give you the green light to be inappropriate.
- Look at the past year of what you’ve posted on social media profiles. Delete every photo, video and comment that is even remotely off color.
- Google your name, address, phone number, email address and pseudonyms to see what’s out there about you. If it’s bad and it’s deleteable, then delete.
- If it’s not deleteable, but under the control of someone else, see what your options are to have them remove it. Email, call, beg and plead if you must.
- Once you’ve removed what you can then start the process of pushing out good stuff. This means propagating social and search with digital content that would make your mother actually proud she spawned you. The more good stuff that shows on the first few pages of search, the more the bad stuff will be pushed down into the abyss.
If you are saying “I’m not concerned, my life is an open book, if a potential employer doesn’t want to hire me because of who I am, then I don’t want that job anyway.” Fine. But when it comes time to pay the bills, you’ve been forewarned.
You may be a college grad with a 170 IQ or a businessman with 10 years of experience, but to a prospective employer, your fishy face selfie makes you look like a tool. Be careful what you do online!
Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! Disclosures.