by Kristy Amburgey
As a result of the increase in branding efforts by job seekers, it also seems that there needs to be an increase in awareness of your web presence. With your increased use of resources such as LinkedIn, Facebook, a personal blog, and contributing to forums, you need to be acutely aware of how important it is to both protect your brand and project a positive image.
First thing you should do is to conduct an Internet search of your name or iterations of your name (like a maiden name or a nick name). Make sure that you know what others may see about you if they were to conduct a similar search. If you find negative information, depending on the social media used, remove any tags, links, names, etc. from what you can; ask others to do the same if you can’t manipulate the system. Many search engines have processes to help you remove offending information; search Google, Bing or other engines to find out the steps to take, which often involve requests for action. For some search results, you may not be able to fix what is seen (for example, a person with a similar name that has a bad reputation), but do you best to control what you can with privacy settings and with personal accountability.
With branding, you need people to find you, so you should set your security or protection to where potential employers can track down your efforts. But you need to also ensure that truly personal information (family vacation pictures, for example) is viewable by your closest friends and family and not the entire web-verse, especially if your personal world conflicts with or negatively impacts in any way your professional brand. There are privacy guidelines and information for Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter that should be reviewed to understand the best ways to control your settings. For blog posts or forum comments, search for system-specific guidelines to understand appropriate ways to protect your presence.
In addition to using the privacy settings provided by the systems you use, always present yourself in the most professional way possible. This step helps ensure that there is no doubt about your professionalism even if someone slips through the cracks and sees your personal information. Use appropriate grammar and punctuation and clear wording when writing. Keep your tone positive and not derogatory towards anyone or any group. Understand that people’s perception of what you post may be different than what you intend, but their perception will always be their reality. Avoid arguing with others in public forums. Overall, make all your online interactions appropriate for any audience at any point in time, especially as you search for a job.
Presenting your brand is important, but protecting your brand is even more vital. First impressions are just that; you may never get a chance to mend a negative first view of your online world. As you work on and grow your brand, assume that anyone can see anything you put out there in the world-wide web. Use privacy guidelines and settings along with professionalism and common sense to manage your brand.
Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department. She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.