Friday, 23 April 2010

Guidelines 4: Presenting Presence as a Present

Be really aware of your cyber footprint.

So, you called up about the advertised position and asked a few well thought of questions, handed in your CV and were polite to the door staff on your way in. Your CV shows you have great experience, and it's well laid out and typo-free. Great, your real-life impressions really are great. But how does your reputation stand online?

Chances are you are going to get googlestalked, so start ego-surfing and googling yourself and making sure you look just a good on screen as you do on paper. Just be careful. Could anybody find any tweets about how drunk you got, badly spelled blog posts, dodgy pictures from last Saturday night, potentially controversial outbursts on the comments page of your favourite news site, or posts on frequented internet forums that demonstrate you to be an intolerant bully. Are there any news stories about you? Do you have a profile on your current or past organisation's website?

Employers are looking out for this kind of stuff. I know people who've had to deal with repercussions from their social networking profiles. I know people who have had to sign disclaimers on application forms indicating which social networking sites they frequent, and accepting that these might be checked up on prior to/during/after application sifting.

I haven't had to sign a disclaimer like that, but I knew it would happen anyway. Late last year a former colleague (and current good friend) of mine sent me a facebook message that said:

"YOU: Your name is the most commonly searched for term on the organisation's website. I take it you're job hunting at the moment then!"

And it's nothing less than I expected. I should point out I wasn't still with that organisation while I was job hunting, but that might be something else to consider, if you're currently still employed but looking elsewhere.

I didn't expect my blog to get me a job (that's not why I started it) but I knew it could lose me any potential job. I know that prospective employers have read this very blog and followed me on Twitter and I even know how they found my information online (cheers, statcounter).

All that talk about employers using google to find out about their workers is true. Have a cyber spring clean if you need to. Have it now.

Because it seems to be that "public is the default" these days on web 2.0 sites, make sure you know exactly what privacy settings you have on any internet media you use, and if you use your real name or publish your email address. Make sure you know who you're friends with on facebook or any other social networking site and also what groups and discussions you've joined and participated in.

It's not a case of making everything private and deleting yourself from the internet, but it's just a case of making sure that first of all the information is employer-friendly, and also that it all adds up. If you've made the mistake of exaggerating your skills, experience or interests on your CV or in an interview, and the information online represents something else entirely, this can easily be picked up on and you could be left wondering why you never got that call back.

Basically, stalk yourself online, and make sure you what you find makes you look like the kind of person you'd like to work with.

Want to find out more?

How's your cyber footprint?

Job hunting grads need to tidy up their web presence.

Job hunting in the web 2.0 jungle.

Cyber vetting and your net rep.

Facebook and Twitter hazards.

And... to see how not to do it, there's always lamebook.

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