Work vs Play: Managing your Professional Image Online
Australians are working more than ever. With 24/7 access to the internet, we are increasingly bringing our work home by networking with colleagues and clients online.
It doesn’t take much searching in the news to find stories of ordinary folk and those in the public eye losing their jobs over inappropriate posts on their social networking profiles.
For this reason work places are beginning to create social media policies to control their employee’s presence online and protect their brand name.
By carefully reading privacy settings and monitoring what you share with others, it’s easy to avoid getting into trouble with your employer and even make a good impression when prospective employers are searching for you online.
1. Don’t assume people won’t go looking for your social media sites.
It’s no secret that employers are now using social networking sites to perform background checks on potential or current employees. Don’t underestimate their skills to find your information online – it’s not hard to perform a quick Google search.
2. Set your personal online profiles to private.
While it’s an obvious and overly preached solution – make sure your personal social networking pages are private. Stories and photos of your wild weekend out aren’t going to impress your employer and some of those Facebook groups you’ve liked probably don’t fit in with the company’s image.
On Facebook, make sure you allow friend requests to only be sent from friends of friends. You can also choose to hide your name from the search tool.
3. Regularly check your privacy settings.
Websites like Facebook are notorious for changing their privacy settings every few months. Sometimes it’s easy to see a notification about a change in privacy settings and ignore it carelessly, but regularly make the effort to be re-educated on what information you’re sharing and with whom.
4. Create a professional account on your social networking site of choice.
Although it may seem unnecessary, creating a second profile shows your employer you have the responsibility and sensibility to manage your online image with care. Just make sure you choose an appropriate photo.
5. Google yourself!
It might sound conceited (and yet we’ve all done it!), but the best way to clean up any inappropriate content you’ve posted online is to search for yourself on Google. Who knows what could be lurking on your old MySpace page? Try Googling your full name alone, then add your current or previous employers to the search, where you live etc. for a more thorough search. This way, you can see through the eyes of employers or clients who may be searching for you online.
6. Last of all, and most importantly – don’t upload content you wouldn’t be prepared to scream at the top of your lungs to the world
The reality is, even if you do your utmost to restrict who can view your online information, there are still possibilities it could still reach the eyes of people you’d rather didn’t see it. Whether it be because of a vengeful friend, or a security hole, your information has the possibility of making it’s way off your profile and onto the rest of the web.
Don’t confuse personal with private. Make the division clear. Social networking sites should be managed as if by a public relations firm. Online your name is a brand and you have an image to maintain.
If you are consistent with promoting a professional image on these websites, you should stay out of trouble with your current employer and may even find yourself networking more successfully with industry colleagues and clients.