10 Ways to Manage Your Online Life
By Sharon Graham.
Across Canada, it has become commonplace for recruiters to pre-screen a candidate’s internet presence, social media profiles, and social networking activities. Before presenting an offer, they consider every aspect of a candidate’s personal life and business situation. The best recruiters are not careless; they systematically exclude all candidates that may have the potential of being detrimental to an employer. Recruiters know that one poor hiring decision can be extremely costly for an employer. Terminating an employee is complex, time consuming, and expensive. Canadian dismissal laws favour employees and employers prefer to avoid legal exposure. In some cases, the process of dismissing someone because of a poor hiring decision can even hurt a company’s brand and image.
Overall, Canadians are experienced Internet users; three quarters use the internet at least once a day. Yet, many don’t understand the importance of maintaining an immaculate online presence. Most know about the dangers of “over the top” activities such as sexting, bullying, posting drunk or drugged-out pictures, and talking trash. However, according to Consumer Reports, some people share far too much on sites like Facebook; they discuss health conditions and family concerns, provide data by “liking” inappropriate subjects, and don’t activate privacy controls. These activities may seem benign, but they can hurt someone in their career endeavours.
For a candidate, just one objectionable entry can damage a career. Repairing such damage might seem time consuming and even draining, but it is crucial from a career management perspective. Even when deleted, “ghost copies” of an unflattering online profile can remain on the internet for many years.
Through a proactive plan, a person can mitigate “digital dirt” and replace it with information that recruiters want and employers need.
- Google your name regularly. Review your online profiles, social networking sites, blogs, and websites in detail and clean up anything you can. Immediately remove any questionable or embarrassing information to cultivate a respectable online presence.
- Limit the number of social networking sites you frequent. LinkedIn is a primary source of career and business networking. Facebook and Twitter can be effective for some, but also extremely time consuming.
- Keep privacy and security at the forefront. Don’t provide personal information such as your home address, social insurance number, or finances. Don’t discuss health concerns, family matters, or other deeply personal issues. Make sure you fully understand and use privacy controls on social networking sites.
- Connect with people with whom you’re proud to be associated. Your network is a reflection of who you are. Be selective and make sure that your circle of contacts represent you well.
- There is rarely a situation where it would be wise to be critical about someone in writing. Make a concerted effort to think about the repercussions before expressing a negative opinion of anyone. This includes bosses, employees, colleagues, vendors, clients, friends, family members, and even people you don’t know in person.
- Never disclose anything about your company unless you are certain that it is appropriate and allowed. Don’t talk about company financials, strategies, goals, financials, proprietary research, trade secrets, internal processes or anything else that might impact the company in a negative way.
- Respect copyright and laws. Never plagiarize something. If you are repeating information that you received from a source, credit that person. Never distribute pictures without specific written permission from the copywright holder.
- Stay active on the sites you select. At a minimum, ensure that your profile is accurate and up-to-date. To raise your visibility, learn and use features that are effective in your situation.
- Spend time regularly on the sites you select. You don’t need to “live” on any social networking site, but you do need to visit them often. Control the amount of time you are spending on the internet by setting a firm time limit for each visit.
- Disconnect from the internet completely at least once during your workday. Turn off smart phones and shut off your search engine so that you can focus on other meaningful work. If you feel that you are spending too much time on the internet, then watch for signs of Social Media Addiction.
Maintaining a strong personal presence requires consideration and diligence. Therefore, every person must regularly invest time towards improving his or her internet presence. Even for the most difficult situations, a thoughtful approach can produce an accurate, authentic, and admirable, personal representation. In the long run, this simple activity will enable a more advantageous outcome for employee and employer.
Sharon Graham is CANADA’S CAREER STRATEGIST and author of the top-selling BEST CANADIAN RESUMES SERIES. Founder and executive director of CAREER PROFESSIONALS OF CANADA, Sharon is committed to setting the standard for excellence in the industry. A leading authority on resume, interview, employment and career transition, Sharon provides career practitioners with tools and resources to enable them to provide exemplary services to Canadians.