Nowhere To Hide, The Importance of a Positive Online Profile

By Adam Burton

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Now being old and out of touch I don’t have a Facebook account (pause while people pick themselves of the floor).

Please don’t let this opening gambit prompt you to click the red cross icon in the right hand corner of your screen but please bear with me. Although I haven’t joined the small country which is now Facebook I am acutely aware that some people’s online profiles will come back to haunt them when they are looking for a new job. So reading this blog, as painful as it might be, could help you land that dream job, you’re welcome!!

There was a time, not so long ago in fairness, when Social Media was just that, a medium where people could be themselves, do what they want, say what they want, upset who they want but times are a changing and your movements online are becoming as important as your professional CV.

See employers now can check you out on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and pretty much any other digital footprint you may have left (apologies if ‘check you out’ isn’t the cool term to use but please refer to the top line of this blog). They can see photo’s of you on a Wednesday night/Thursday morning relieving yourself behind Tesco’s while your friends laugh like school girls in the distance. Now to you this was the end of an epic night out and obviously you wanted to have some form of photographic evidence to share with the world but for a potential employer this may suggest that you like to party late on a school night and involve yourself in unsavoury (my mums absolute favourite word) activities.

I appreciate that it may be difficult to moderate everything that appears on your social media sites but when you start to look for a new job be aware, I mean really aware, that companies you want to work with will look at your profiles and what they see will have an impact on whether you get that job or not.

If you allow me, let me run through potentially the three main sites that could trip you up.

Facebook

The original and probably the most problematic. Facebook has caused many a good person heartache and will continue to so as long as people can access it at 2am in the morning after maybe one too many. All I can suggest is when you have decided to start the job hunt clean up your profile as much as possible. Make sure that you have no incriminating pictures on there that could put a prospective employer off. Remember a company who has seen your CV and want to meet with you will only have an idea of your working life and Facebook is a good place for them to get an idea of your personality. This is vitally important for them so make sure what they see is the real you without any of the really crazy stuff (you all know what I mean).

LinkedIn

Probably the least worrying out of the three as LinkedIn is more of a professional tool but you can still be caught out. Be selective about what you post; try to avoid controversial subjects that could annoy/upset people. Keep the content you put out interesting, engaging and fun. Your LinkedIn profile should show you as a professional person who has the ability to engage with other professional people without them wanting to hurt you.

Twitter

Who would have thought that 140 characters could cause so many issues, well it can, believe me. This is another medium that can be used 24/7 and sometimes badly. Employers will not want to see someone who uses Twitter to rant at individuals, groups or companies and generally come across as a bit of a loon. Twitter can be used to really get your personality across and can boost your application if used correctly.

I appreciate that all this seems, firstly like a lot of work and secondly a bit put on and false but it has to happen. I am not guaranteeing that every company that wants to interview you will go through your online profile like an episode of CSI but you need to be aware that this could happen and if you do have content that could offend this may cost you your dream job.

I will leave you with this, imagine your mother will be looking over your online profiles over the next few days. What changes would you make? What would you want to hide? What would you want your mum to think of you when she had looked? This may not seem like the most scientific of tasks but I bet it will get you thinking.

Any questions ask Google or my wife, they both seem to know everything.

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