It’s not just people in the limelight and social influencers who are vulnerable to scrutiny and criticism over their online image. Even us mere mortals have to be aware of what we put out there. Say the wrong thing, or something that goes against the norm and all your past tweets and posts can get dug up. Or even when you pitch yourself for a new opportunity. Increasingly, interviewers look at your past to see if you have a future in their business.
You can quickly find yourself in hot water for something you said years ago. It doesn’t matter if you’ve changed, or it was just a rash moment. Something you have published – for the (free) world all to see – can bite you. It can leave you, if you’re lucky, having to explain something negative when you could be using the time to talk about something much more positive. Or, at worst, it can slam doors shut.
The good news is that it’s all avoidable and easily managed if you’re proactive.
Time to get on top of your online image
Here are our 6 Big Things to help you get on top of your online channels. Being mindful of these will hopefully avoid awkward interview moments, or your missing out on something you wanted. Better safe than sorry if you ask us.
1. Set your personal social media profiles to private
Outside of work, everyone deserves and needs a social life that allows them to de-stress and relax. But do you want your boss to see all the ins and outs? Keep your personal social media world private and only invite the people in that you want.
Privacy settings are there for a reason. It enables you to shut out anyone who you don’t want lurking, including people you don’t know. These settings can be tailored to revoke access to specific parts of your profile. Use them!
If not to keep your boss at bay then do it for the hackers. Hackers are experts at trawling channels for any personal info they can use to their advantage. So keep them out by keeping your accounts private and secure.
2. Remove any embarrassing photos or videos of you online
Great nights out usually end with you flicking through your social channels in the morning to piece your night together by online selfies. While it may be amusing to your friends and family, we’re not sure photos of you hanging off streetlights are that appealing to potential employers.
It’s important to make sure you’re portraying yourself in the right way. How do you want to come across? Whether you’re looking for employment, embarking on a business venture or a self-employed freelancer, it’s all the same. First impressions count. But online impressions STICK. You can’t unsee something but you can untag something to stop others from seeing something.
And don’t forget those old accounts you haven’t used for years – they need ‘managing’ too!
3. Separate business from pleasure
Ever heard the saying, never mix business with pleasure? The same applies here too. It’s a smart move to have separate social media accounts or channels for different things.
It’s also smart to make sure your businesses social spaces have mature sounding names and email address linked to them. No offence, but employers don’t want to see ‘princess_*insert email@example.com’.
Also, be mindful of channel purpose. For example, LinkedIn is great for business networking. It doesn’t need to cover your weekend shenanigans. Unless they are adding to your ability to network.
4. Think before you send
What’s online stays online. Even when things are “removed” on the web, there can still be screen grabs that captured ‘that’ rash moment. Always take a step back for a second, and think about what you’re about to post – whether it’s your professional or personal account.
Also, Google yourself (again – we all do it)! When employers browse your social media channels, they look at the kind of comments you have made to get a better sense of how you behave online. The theory is that while you try to present yourself in a favourable light during an interview, your social media behaviour can give employers an idea of who you are outside of work. Complaints about former employers or comments with a discriminatory connotation are (of course) all red flags.
5. Be yourself!
Sometimes life can be overwhelming and overbearing and online is an easy place to reinvent yourself and escape from it all. But it’s probably better to stick to the best version of yourself. So be mindful of how you project your online image. You want to avoid employers, clients or colleagues etc. from getting the wrong impression.
You wouldn’t lie on your CV, and the same rule applies to your online image. The best thing to do is not to pretend to be someone you’re not. And to celebrate all that’s special and individual about you.
6. Identify the social channels that will add to your personal growth
The great thing about social media is that there are so many platforms; Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin and more. The key is to identify what platform your audience is on and set yourself up there.
Not every single platform is going to be the right fit for you. For example, a niche like photography would be great for Instagram. Or for a writer, Medium would be a compatible fit.
Take some time to figure out where you need to be and then begin to build a formidable online presence and brand ‘you’ identity.
If you do have things on your channels (or on other people’s channels) that aren’t a fair representation of you and you’re struggling to take them down, get in touch with the relevant channel directly. Increasingly, the likes of Facebook, Google and Twitter are helping people manage their online image. To get it fixed, you have to be proactive and start the conversation with them.
Lifting the lid on Apprenticeships
Finding the right career path is tough. But one thing that makes it easier is knowing what all the different paths have to offer. And we think that not enough people are confident about what modern apprenticeships have to offer. Especially when you have companies like Google, Facebook and Universal all heavily investing in apprenticeship opportunities.
Apprentice Nation invites you to take a fresh look at Apprenticeships. Check out the Go Far section of our website and discover some helpful links to resources and companies that are there to support your apprenticeships journey.