Be Smart, Not Compromised, Online by Michael Fertik
A new semester starts and with it, all the chances to share on social: Instagram, Twitter, Ask.fm, Facebook, FourSquare etc. You can become defined instantly by a few seconds on Vine, a surreptitious filming with a stranger’s Google Glasses or through an errant, kneejerk post.
Friends. Family. Complete strangers. Everyone’s a publisher, able to broadcast our public and private lives in a heartbeat (case in point: the insane sorority girl rant). And everyone – from family members, law enforcement, and employers – is a consumer, ready to snap up that content about you, to let it define you.
More importantly – and disturbingly – it’s the way people will interpret your character.
Here’s what we know about online information and you:
• 33 percent of people click on the first organic search result and by the fourth result, just about 8 percent of people are looking. That means forget about pages two, three and four of your Google search results – what’s there doesn’t really matter.
• One in ten people, ages 16-34, have been rejected for a job based on social media use – yet two-thirds say that they are not worried about how social media could impact their chances at employment.
• A majority says they have altered their social media profiles to appeal to friends, not prospective employers.
Here’s what you could (and should) do this year to make sure that you are attractive online to friends, internship coordinators and hiring managers alike (side benefit: avoiding personal life drama!):
• The first step is obvious: delete, hide, untag. Is it right that you’re judged? Maybe not. But it’s happening regardless; put your best foot forward. Understanding online evaluation gives you power to make the best of it. Delete posts, tweets, blogs and photos that could be misconstrued or reflect a part of yourself that you wish to move on from. Untag yourself in questionable photos friends have posted. Adjust privacy settings so friends can’t tag you or check you in without your permission. Trim down your friend lists and hide posts from all but a select group of people. Remember as you post that nothing is failsafe – a well-timed screen shot can still be your undoing, regardless of your privacy settings.
• Make smarter use of social media. Fill out a LinkedIn profile and request recommendations from colleagues and bosses at internships or even professors. Get a resume.com profile – this tends to rank well in search results. Buy your domain name and create a simple but elegantly designed website that highlights your academic accomplishments, work history and future objectives and hook it up to your LinkedIn and other professional sites. This is an easy way to create a positive presence online, apart from Facebook and Twitter.
• Start fresh on social. Keep your old social media accounts but lock them down – these can be for personal use only (though remember: if you never want it out there, never put it out there). Start secondary professional accounts – it’s totally fine if you’re not done with college or even decided on a major. People love to see your energy and enthusiasm – so reading someone who is posting the latest on their quest to become a veterinarian, complete with new studies you’ve read on large mammals, interesting facts, etc., will speak very highly about you.
It’s not that it’s hard to do the right things on social – it’s just that it’s so very easy to do the wrong ones. Simple steps like these will make a huge difference, paying dividends in your perceived character and reputation online.
Author: Michael Fertik founded Reputation.com with the belief that people and businesses have the right to control and protect their online reputation and privacy. Credited with pioneering the field of online reputation management (ORM), Fertik is lauded as the world's leading cyberthinker in digital privacy and reputation. Follow Michael on Twitter at MichaelFertik.
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