It’s time to put the Bro Handbook away and use a proper vernacular (look it up), cover up two years of what you called “addictive” tattooing, and… update your social networking
School is over. The loans/bills are coming. It is time to finally jump into the world you have been avoiding—professional/career development. It may seem common place to abide by the dress codes, or develop the cover letter and resume, but many forget that the information we share with the World Wide Web is becoming equally important. That means that status update that paralleled Professor Eddy to Hitler, the pictures of your “bad-ass” two story beer bong, and the three minute video of you “calling dinosaurs” are likely available to those that know where to look (and your employers likely know). Beyond background checks, it is common place for employers to do a simple Google search on your name to see if anything interesting pops up. While employers cannot “legally” use that information against you, who is to say the photos of you flicking off your buddy magically makes your competitors look a little more appealing. How do we limit the unwanted information? It’s time to privatize Social Networking Sites (SNS).
Mission critical—Check your privacy settings
The first thing you should do is check out your privacy settings. Any good SNS should have the option to limit the audience who can see your profile. Select the narrowest, most trustworthy group of people to see your intimate information if you absolutely MUST have certain things available. As for the rest of the info… use your best judgment. “Like” getting in the habit of changing passwords. I would say you should change every 90 days or how often you should change your oil, though no one would argue the more frequent you change your passwords, the better. Checking back on privacy settings compulsively is underrated; with changes in policy or terms of agreement, options become reset or are moved under a different heading. This would leave vulnerable information potentially available to prospective employers.
Clean up your posts
Now it is time to backlog through your posts and get rid of whatever you would not want your boss to read (this allots a little wiggle room for different types of careers). When in doubt, get rid of it. That means getting rid of pictures of you guzzling an alcoholic beverage (EVEN IF YOU ARE OF AGE), posts where you are dropping F bombs or saying many of the other inappropriate things one might label “not becoming of a gentleman.” And, get rid of videos of questionable nature and tags to things that I am sure seemed funny at the time but are likely now not the image you want to be reflected.
You may think, “I’ll just change my name on the networking site.” Good idea, and the information you post from then on will be read under said name… but all the juicy photo tags and sexist comments are already saved, somewhere. This has become such a problem that there are now sites that offer the service of finding your cyber naughtiness and attempting to delete it, for a price. Be proud of your past and contributions to the SNS, just show off the things that make you stand out and get rid of the things that leave questions.
Things you should probably have more of: “tags” of you doing relevant things—i.e. “pictures” of you working on your car if you want to be a mechanic; “pictures” of you and all the kids you have babysat if you are applying to a school-age childcare provider; “updates” from different locations that you’ve “checked-in” around the country if you want to prove how you know how to/can spend time away from home; or obvious OVERSTATED hyperlinks to your blogs and online writing boldly displayed on your “homepage” if you are looking to work in writing. Think, how can I use this great tool to demonstrate my qualities?
It’s not deleting their existence… just limiting potential unwanted information exposure
Lastly, and I know this is going to hurt… it is time to trim down the friends list. Trust me, that girl you ate lunch with in the third grade is not going to be offended. This, again, is subject to the nature of the environment you are looking for, but if you are really looking to professionalize your networking site— keep people that will care about your career development.
“I trust everyone on my friends list.” I’m sure you do, but that doesn’t change that your ex-girlfriend’s mom’s best friend, through the miracle of social networking, is the hiring manager for the firm you’ve dreamed of working at, and happens by your account. Blacked out, by the dumpster at bar time is not going to win you any points here. Google Circles and Facebook are offeringoptions to limit the information you send out to a specific audience. Even if you can’t avoid a social networking run-in, you still have the option to dissect what they see. Getting rid of some of the fluff is still a good step to limiting unwanted eyes.
SNS’s can be a great tool to find employment or network within your career. More and more businesses are utilizing sites such as Facebook and Twitter to get information out, find employees, and stay connected; the information on your pages should reflect the nature of your own career interests and how serious you are to become an established professional in that field. This does not mean you have to cut out posting pictures from wedding season or talking trash to NFC North rivals, it means you have to be conscious of who that information could reach. With jobs at a premium and cyber knowledge at a surplus, you wouldn’t want a Google search to be the difference between being offered a position and a kindly written “thank you for your interest, your talents/experience/education are impressive but…” letter, right?
Categories: Social Networking