We’ve rounded up some of our best tips on how to keep a professional profile even while having fun online, so your career will soar just like your follower count.
Practice good social media hygiene 🧽🧼🧹
Strolling down memory lane 🚶♂️can be a lot of fun on social media. Who doesn’t love cringing at old photos of ourselves from 10 years ago every once in a while? 😬
But as time goes on and we begin to find ourselves in new and different environments, some of the old things we’ve posted and said might take on new meaning in light of different contexts. That hysterical joke you made about a television personality’s hair five years ago might not be so great if you’re working with a boss who wants to form an advertising partnership with that same person.
For this reason, we recommend that you get in the habit of reviewing your older posts/tweets/pinned stories and regularly clean them out. Some choose to get in the habit of wiping anything six months or older, some choose to be more selective. Do what feels right for you.
Now, of course, this is going to take some value judgement 🤔. Sometimes we need to draw a line in the sand and stand up for what we said and believe, but only you can decide what that is. By staying aware of what you’ve put out into the world you lessen the risk of being caught off guard when it comes up again.
Consider having separate private and professional profiles
Studies have shown that employers are more likely to hire someone with a social media presence than without. But mayybeee a potential boss won’t appreciate seeing how much tequila you put in your home-made desperados. (Or maybe they will, we don’t judge.)
To walk that fine line between connecting in the digital age and still being able to work in a professional environment, consider having accounts that are just for you and your friends and then other accounts that are public. A public-facing website and LinkedIn profile are great ways to manage expectations while keeping your Instagram and Twitter private. Or, get really judicious with the private/public settings on your Facebook posts.
Poke around the web to see what the norm is for other people in your chosen industry and use that as a guideline to set your own social media standards.
Practice good account hygiene
We’ve talked about managing your old social media posts, but what about old accounts you made, used for a month, and then moved on. These accounts may still carry personal information, like connections to your Facebook profile, addresses, old conversations, etc. It’s a good idea to try to remember all the different social media sites and go through and delete or disable those accounts that you don’t use anymore.
The last thing anyone needs is a data breach on some now-defunct site with poor security controls wreaking havoc on your life.
Also, when was the last time you fed your Neopet?
Set up a website with your own name as the URL
When you’re looking for a job or launching a career, controlling your online image is an important aspect. Wouldn’t it be great if you could control what the first thing people see about you when they Google your name?
For this reason, we recommend that you set up a website with your name as the URL or, if you’re on a budget, get a free blog (like WordPress or Squareapace) and include your name in the title.
Even if all you do with this website is upload your resume, you’re still taking a step in the right direction to manage your online image.
Search for your name and take control over what other people are posting about you
Depending on your level of online influence, this might be easy or a process that you’ll want to include professional help on.
Do a quick search for your name through the regular platforms – Google, news sites, Twitter, etc. and see what comes up. Your aunt might have posted a photo of you she thought was adorable, but you would rather not be out there. A local small-town news site might have posted a story that got the details wrong – it’s good to be aware of all this.
In North America there are currently no “right to be forgotten” laws, but you do have every right to at least ask that incorrect information about you be corrected or unflattering posts be taken down. Be polite, send them a quick message, and state your case. You’d be surprised at how accommodating people can be.
Cyberbullying and online harassment are never okay. If you have the misfortune of coming across posts about yourself that cross a line, don’t feel like you have to engage or reach out to these people. (DON’T FEED THE TROLLS.) Instead, report the posts and reach out to a friend or family member to get support.