May 23, 2012

Don’t Hang Your Dirty Laundry Online

As millions of new college graduates enter the job market, a few words about why you don’t want your dirty laundry hanging online, what to remove, and what to keep.

First let’s take a look at why it’s important to manage your online presence:

Unless your skill set is extraordinarily specialized, you can guarantee that the majority of other applicants have (essentially) the same resume. Consequently, it’s all too easy to be knocked out of the running for seemingly small things like an inappropriate photo or post.

What am I deeming inappropriate?

Well, among the basics:

Photos where you (or your companions) look drunk/stoned; photos showing you in revealing clothing; photos where you’re holding alcoholic beverages.

Posts that include profanity; posts that could be construed as racist/misogynistic; posts that boast about sexual conquests; posts that complain about your job search; posts that badmouth your current employers; posts that declare you’d rather be shopping/hanging out with friends/hanging 10 than at an office.

In addition, I’ve heard clients complain about the following pet peeves:

Posts that talk ad nauseam (pun intended) about your eating plan/body fat percentage/workout routine; posts announcing your breakup with your boyfriend or girlfriend (and how you’re feeingl about it…minute to minute); daily posts/photos detailing the ongoing cuteness of your kitten/puppy/pony….

And, finally, the indiscriminate posting of photo-shopped pictures of rainbows/unicorns/fluffy creatures and/or dubiously sourced, inspirational quotes.

(If it seems like I’m being a killjoy, consider this: if you have that much time to spend mucking around on your social media pages, you don’t seem like you really want a job.)

So, what should you do?

I recommend beginning by buying your name as a URL. You will be taken much more seriously if you are yourname@yourname.com than you will if you are using google/hotmail/yahoo, etc. If you must use a generic delivery system don’t have an email address along the lines of hotkitty@xxx.com or can’tfunction@xxxx.com    (I have seen both)

I also recommend getting a LinkedIn account, and reaching out to your professors/mentors/parents’ friends working in the field you’d like to enter.

Finally, if you’re not already the proud possessor of a website, I suggest putting up a splash page with a bio and links to presentations you’ve given and (appropriate) sites you like (See general notes, above, for guidance. If you feel there’s any chance they might be misconstrued, just, don’t…..)

Frances Cole Jones

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