Clean Up Your Digital Closet BEFORE Applying For a Job!



Sounds like a weird thing to have to worry about, right? Well, get used to it.

Your online reputation can harm or help your job prospects. In 2010, Microsoft Research conducted a survey that indicated 70% of employers rejected potential employees from the information they found online. Conversely, the survey also found that 68% hired because of what was found! This trend is only increasing.

In a way, this is a good thing because it keeps us honest. Unfortunately, many of us have learned that past indiscretions can lead to devastating consequences. Here are some important thoughts to consider about your online life before pumping out your resume.

Keep Your Professional Affiliations Separate from Your Personal Media

We seldom contemplate how we may appear to others before sending off messages. If you already have a Facebook for your personal use, make sure you set the security to the highest levels. Just as you have boundaries in your relationships, you must maintain boundaries online as well.

It is highly recommended to sign up for a LinkedIn account – this is the most widely used professional networking site out there. If necessary, consider signing up for a second Facebook account that will be your professional persona; the face you want to make available to future employers.

Be Mindful of What You Put Out There

Whether you realize it or not, there is a unique opportunity to market yourself in the digital environment. Never before has there been a time when you can design your own store front; the ultimate expression of what you want, who you are and what you can offer to the world. Take advantage of the tools out there.

Just like in the real world, make sure you follow the same rules of discretion: be mindful of your manners, treat others with kindness, don’t get involved in bad behavior, protect yourself and don’t expose your personal information. Think about it, you wouldn’t give your boss the keys to your house or access to your diary. Everything that matters in your physical life equally applies to your online life.

To Friend or Not to Friend… 

Understanding and setting professional and social boundaries are an important part of getting and keeping a job. If you are unsure of the rules, check out Social Media Guidelines for Students and Job Seekers.

Technically, it is not recommended to “friend” anyone connected with your workplace. With that said, many of us still give our co-workers access to our personal Facebook account. If you do this, make sure you do not discuss work-related issues. You must protect yourself. Remember, you have control and you should never feel bad for “unfriending” any one for any reason.

When it comes to your boss, consider connecting them to your LinkedIn account and not your Facebook account. Most managers will completely understand the importance of these boundaries. Knowing how to conduct oneself in this “brave new world” of social and professional networking will empower you to put your best self out there.

Other Things to Consider 

  • Differentiate yourself from others who may have the same name as you – buy a domain name using your full name and market it as your professional self.
  • Publish relevant professional information about yourself without jeopardizing your security – Utilize LinkedIn and Twitter to establish a successful online presence.
  • Clean out your online closet – delete questionable comments and inappropriate friends from your Facebook, Twitter, and blog accounts.
  • Learn how to keep your information secure – check out the Federal Trade Commission’s How to keep your personal information secure to learn important ways to secure your information.

About the author

Connie Davis Connie Davis is a contributing author for NerdWallet, a personal finance website, where you can find advice on a range of topics from managing credit debt to where to find coupons for free stuff.