We’re all aware that our CVs are often the first opportunity a hiring manager has to make a judgment before meeting us. However, CVs aren’t the only avenue for a hiring manager to form an opinion about us. Our digital reputation can often determine whether or not we get a call, interview, or job offer. Therefore, managing your digital presence is crucial.
The first and easiest step in managing your online image is to make all of your social media accounts are private. This way, you don’t have to manually sort through and delete every inappropriate old tweet, Instagram photo, and Facebook status you may have posted. Be wary of accepting friend and follow requests from people you don’t know, especially if you’ve recently submitted a job application or attended an interview. You might think that you’re in the clear by changing your handle or username so that it doesn’t reveal your real name. Unfortunately, this is oftentimes not enough. Most social media platforms allow users to perform searches with email addresses instead of names. This means that if your potential employer knows the email address associated with your accounts, you may still be searchable.
Making your social media accounts private does not automatically remove your tagged photos and activity from other people’s accounts. Perform a search on each platform to find and un-tag yourself from detrimental posts in which you’ve been tagged and delete any questionable public comments you’ve made. If you’re unsure which posts could be perceived negatively, ask yourself “would I be comfortable if my boss saw this?” If the answer is no, hide it or delete it. Next, review posts in which you’ve tagged locations and remove location tags from any inappropriate posts. If your account is set to be private but you’ve included Geotags in any of your posts, these posts may still appear when people search for that particular location tag. Finally, take a look at your Facebook event history and delete anything that seems questionable. Again, even if you’ve made your account private, people can still see your name on public events to which you’ve responded and been invited.
To conduct a more thorough cleanup, recover all your email addresses. It is likely that you’ve created accounts with older email addresses that you no longer use. Log in and search your inbox for terms like “welcome” or “activate your account” to rediscover emails from social media platforms you forgot you used. Reclaim and delete these dormant accounts.
Now that you’ve completed the digital clean up basics, Google yourself! Use combinations of “your name” + “your city” + “your alma mater” + “your company” and comb through the first five pages of results. Using these combinations will help you find content you many have forgotten about, such as an overly critical company review you made years ago on a job site. If you come across anything unflattering that you cannot delete yourself, such as a college newspaper article or university society event page, send the website moderator a request for removal.
If your request for a takedown is not fulfilled on time, you can bury an unwanted post by making positive content about you more visible. Create a website or blog account using your full name and post professional and relevant content. Or, if you are pressed for time, create public social media accounts and a Medium account, upload a sensible profile picture, start following leaders in your field, and react to articles related to your industry. This is especially relevant to professionals in the marketing field, where having no online presence is sometimes seen as a red flag.
Finally, conduct frequent searches to make sure your digital reputation remains healthy. A few extra precautions may get you the interview you’ve been waiting for!