Monday, February 21, 2011

Know thy virtual self

I found this clever, incredibly accurate cartoon on The Geek Culture's The Joy of Tech. I think it sums up the subject of this post nicely. This morning, a good friend of mine asked for help putting together her resume and cover letter and that got me thinking. I've been to countless workshops, talked to numerous professors/professionals, and spent hours at the university Career Services office perfecting my resumes and cover letters. What about the rest?

In this digital age, employers are looking at your Facebook page just as much as they are looking at your resume and what good are traditional forms of capturing an employer's attention if the pictures of you taking shots last weekend are just as influential? Don't believe me? According to a survey by Jump Start Social Media, 48% of hiring mangers use Facebook, 75% use LinkedIn, and 26% use Twitter to research candidates before making a job offer. says 34% of hiring mangers choose not to hire a candidate based on what they find in online profiles. Now that i've got your attention, here are some tips to help you clean up your online identity.

1. Detag, detag, detag. Don't limit reasons to untag photos to those that are "unflattering" because that dress was too tight. Detag photos in which you're drinking, dressed inappropriately (doesn't matter if it's a theme party), and any activity that could be detrimental to your reputation and ultimately the company's reputation should they hire you. This also applies to your profile picture. It's not enough to clean out your closet if your room is still a mess. Be sure to delete inappropriate ones from your Profile Picture album too! It doesn't matter how hot you look standing next to the drunk, shirtless frat boy, it doesn't reflect positively upon you.

2. Privacy settings are your best friend. Facebook reveals so much personal information which is fine for your friends and family but do you want your potential employers knowing about the rager you're throwing Friday night? Remove your self from friend searches, limit profile people you're not comfortable sharing so much information with, and don't accept every friend request you get! Sure it's cool to have several hudred, even a thousand plus friends but how well do you really know them?

3. Clean up your wall posts, statuses, notes, videos, etc. Don't think an employer will stop at your photos, they're going to read the content you post and hold you to it. Even if you were just having a bad day at work when you posted a status about how your terrible your boss is, it's not professional. Same goes for videos of you dancing at a bar, personal notes, and wall posts from friends that are hardly PG.

4. Utilize your info tab. The info tab is such a wonderful tool to highlight aspects of yourself that don't come across on an resume. How attractive is it to potential employers to know you're well read, enjoy traveling, have a penchant for volunteer work, or the ever important "Employers" section. Did you leave internships or past jobs off your resume you didn't have space for? Well now they know.

5. Avoid having to clean up your online profiles altogether. If you don't have the time or don't want to, then consider deactivating your profile while you're in the interviewing process. I know, it'll be the end of the world if you can't check your Facebook multiple times a day but it's an important step in ensuring your future success.

If you want more information, check out these helpful links from and

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