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Mom Says, "Keep Your Online Reputation Clean!"

by Mike Karfakis on October 25, 2011

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According to a Career Builder Survey in 2009, 45% of employers use social media sites like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and LinkedIn to screen potential employees. It makes sense to include on your resume the URL to your professional blog or an online portfolio of your work, but don’t expect employers to stop there. It doesn’t take a technological wizard to unearth an OkCupid you set up in college, or worse.

Your Internet presence is crucial to your marketability. Considering our social media expertise, a lot of people have come to our team at Vitamin asking how to explain the benefits and dangers of social media to their young adult children, especially those entering the job market.

Anyone with an online identity is creating a brand. The way you come across on social media sets an expectation for your personality in real life. The more platforms you use, the more questions are posed: Does the person's Twitter account sound like the same person described on the LinkedIn page? And is this seemingly professional and competent person on LinkedIn really the same party animal I see on Facebook? Are the contents of these pages too provocative? Too boring? Bottom line: Would someone want to know or hire your child from seeing his or her Internet persona? Then, is your child truly like that online persona?

We don’t want to terrify you of social media. It can be quite beneficial in a job search. When we made a recent hire, we checked the applicant’s social media pages. We learned a bit about her music and film taste, and it actually created a great opportunity to find out more about her personality once the interview took place. The interview flowed without effort and we were able to dig deeper, quickly. So, as long as social media pages are put to good use and are monitored, they can give a job applicant an advantage.

Before you talk to your son or daughter about his or her Internet persona, Google them. Then Google their e-mail addresses. Do you see some old blog where your daughter used to write about how much she loved kittens and rainbows? Did she forget the password? Well, she better find it, and close the account immediately.

Do you see pictures of your son on a Flickr account in a sequence of pictures involving a wine festival and a large quantity of vino? Tell him, and he should contact the owner of the Flickr and/or un-tag himself.

As far as Facebook goes, that’s a world of its own, with its own world of privacy settings. Thankfully, there are handy guides to help people understand how to let only close friends see the entire profile – pictures and all – and to keep acquaintances and coworkers at more distant levels.

Best option yet: It’s always a possibility to register an Internet domain name using a full name, or close to it, and writing website content with nothing but wonderful things, past accomplishments, and goals for the future. When that name is entered into a search engine, that domain name is likely to rank first.

Ultimately, everyone needs to keep his or her Internet profile fresh and clean. Ask yourself this: If someone did a Google search on you right now, would you have anything to hide?

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