By Jen Conole, RWU Career Advisor
It happens – you didn’t have your post-grad job search in mind when you posted that embarrassing photo or tweeted that profane comment online. How this might impact your job search will often depend on severity and context. A photo of a candidate that “appears to have been drinking” isn’t usually an immediate disqualifier. It may come down to what exactly the candidate is doing in the photo. Is he holding a beer at a football game? Or is he singing karaoke with a lampshade on his head? Most employers who are serious about a candidate won’t use an embarrassing photo or a couple of inappropriate comments as the sole reason for disqualifying someone.
One of the most important recommendations for interviews is never to bad-mouth a previous employer. The same goes for social media. An employer may wonder whether this candidate will be difficult to get along with. Some employers have social media policies, but these are always under scrutiny because they walk the line between monitoring professional employee (or candidate) behavior and impeding the right to free speech. Once again, if everything else about the candidate shines, the employer will likely not use something like a string of unprofessional posts to disqualify a candidate. But why take the chance?
The bad news is that once something is online, it’s there forever. With few (extremely tedious and somewhat painful) exceptions, it cannot be deleted (no matter what those online reputation management companies tell you). What you CAN do about it is work on changing the tone of your online presence in a positive way. Start making professional, relevant posts on your social media pages. Create new professional social media pages. Here are a few suggestions:
LinkedIn.com: An absolute must for anyone looking for a career these days. This is 100% professional networking at its best. You can find other professionals, join professional associations or groups, follow companies you’re interested in, and post professional updates on your profile.
SlideShare.net: An online cloud-like website that allows you to upload documents, presentations, and other files. Use this website to publish some of your academic work online.
Twitter.com: Believe it or not, your Twitter feed CAN help you find a job! Keep in mind that you should make regular, relevant professional posts that are related to the industry you want to work in. Post links to professional articles you find online. Follow other industry professionals, and re-tweet their professional posts. Establish yourself as a player in the professional field.
Hootsuite.com: This is a social media management tool that you can use to make posts on multiple social media sites at once. You can even schedule posts so that you don’t have to set aside time multiple times per day to make your posts.
Professional Blog: Anyone can have a blog. There are a number of blog platforms available, such as Blogspot.com, Wordpress.com, and Blogger.com. It can be a time-intensive undertaking, but if your blogs are interesting and industry-relevant, your blog can help you in your job search.
For all of the suggestions above, make sure to make your profile public, so that it comes up in a Google search. Generally the most recent and relevant information on you is what will appear in an online search, so if you’re active and professional on the above websites, these are what should appear when someone “Googles” your name.