Potential employers will weigh your digital identity – and so should you

Why Your Digital Identity Matters to Your Job Search

Could your online presence keep you from landing a job?

Job hunting is a two-way street. While you’re researching potential employers and learning all you can about the hiring managers who’ll be interviewing you, they’re checking you out, too.

Tools such as Facebook and Twitter enable employers to get a glimpse of who candidates are outside the confines of a resume or cover letter.

Employers put stock in what they find — or don’t. More than 2 in 5 employers said they are less likely to interview job candidates if they’re unable to find information about the person online, nearly half of hiring managers who screen candidates via social networks said they’ve found information that caused them not to hire a person.

Have you paid proper attention to your online reputation? Simply put, if you’re looking for a job, you ignore the digital “you” at your peril.

To put your best foot forward online, here are five things you need to do:

  1. Know your digital identity.

Chances are it’s pretty complex. Some of it, you create at a minimum you should have pages on LinkedIn and Facebook. Some of it is created by your friends when they post comments and photos you’re in, some of it is created by total strangers, staff at schools you attended, former workplaces, local newspaper, etc.

Your first task is to know what’s out there. Do what employers do when they begin researching you online. Conduct a basic Google search of your name.

  1. Scrub the social media pages that are yours.

Look over everything on your social media timelines and remove any unprofessional content that you wouldn’t want employers or recruiters to see. If you can’t delete it yourself, contact the site manager and request to have it removed.

Check out Facebook posts that you’re tagged in and untag yourself if the post contains any content including photos that is unprofessional.

On Twitter, you can review mentions on your profile name and discover tweets by others that mention you. If you can’t remove an uncomplimentary comment or photo, you can at least prepare a response should a potential employer ask you about it.

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  1. Keep tabs on your pals.

Just because you’re being vigilant with what you put online about yourself doesn’t mean your friends are. Keep an eye on what others are posting on your profile and what you’re tagged in.

  1. Fine-tune your privacy.

Though you want to be visible online to a potential employer, every social media and networking channel has privacy settings that let you restrict how visible you are. In some cases, you can limit what other people share about you. With most services, you click an icon in the upper right corner of the opening screen for a menu that includes a privacy settings option.

  1. Be active on the platforms you’ve committed to.

Make a point of posting comments or articles, retweeting or sharing on your social media sites daily to keep them current and relevant. This shows that you’re up to speed with your industry and connected with leaders in your field.

Be certain, though, that the content you’re sharing (or even clicking “Like” on) supports the image you want to deliver to a potential employer. Never share something without reading it carefully first.

Although you need to be careful about what you post, you don’t want to be so reined in that prospective employers can’t find a playful or creative side to you.

Hiring managers look for a proper professional image, but they also want to get a bead on what makes you run and your level of comfort and engagement on social media channels.

Calculated posts on your accounts at Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and even Pinterest can craft a richer picture of you. About a third of employers who screen candidates via social networks found information that caused them to hire a candidate, according to LinkedIn, and this included content that showed personality and interests confirming the person was a good fit for the company culture.