In this brave new world of constant online activity, it’s not enough to have a strong CV and a good interview technique; you need to have a professional online presence too.
There is absolutely no point submitting a brilliant covering letter and CV if, when the HR Manager googles you (as part of their shortlisting process) they find your twitter rants, Facebook boozy photos and no LinkedIn profile (or even worse, an out of date LinkedIn profile).
I’m not saying you need to change your lifestyle, or that you should be misleading in your online presence, but you should be very aware of how your online presence could come across to others. Google your name right now. Done it? What shows up?
I am (un)lucky enough to have a relatively unusual name so all search results tend to be about me! So I need to be very careful about what I share online, therefore I tend to have different privacy settings for different social media channels depending on how I use them/their purpose.
Here are my recommendations to make sure you are putting your best foot forward online.
This is a no-brainer. You MUST have a LinkedIn profile. With a professional photo. And up-to-date accurate information. It’s also a good idea to regularly share articles and/or post info to your LinkedIn profile as this activity ensures that your profile will show near the top of a search result of your name.
My personal preference is to keep Facebook purely as a personal channel. I tend not to ‘friend’ a lot of work colleagues (unless they are friends as well as work colleagues of course) and treat it as a private channel to keep in touch with friends. So, to this end, I always set the privacy setting to ensure that search engines do not find my Facebook profile and therefore return it in search results linked to my name (see my previous article on Facebook privacy settings).
My twitter account is linked to my LinkedIn account and I am happy for anyone to read it. I tend to tweet about books, cats, food & drink and events (in that order!) and am not ‘political’ or controversial (so quite dull!). I am not saying that you shouldn’t be controversial on Twitter if you want to get a job, but you should be aware of how you might be perceived as a result of your tweets.
One last thing. Most people nowadays have several email accounts. Gmail is the preferred email of choice but there is still Hotmail (so old school I hear you cry!) and Yahoo, etc. It shouldn’t need saying but do please use your name rather than an ‘amusing’ moniker for your professional email address. I did a stint in recruitment and some of the email addresses that were provided to me on CVs were genuinely mind-boggling (I’m talking to you ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ and ‘email@example.com’.
In other words, use your common sense and don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t be prepared to share with your work colleagues/prospective boss in real life.
Happy job hunting!