Technology is all around us and chances are you probably have some level of interaction with Social Media. For example, you might have a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr or some other online blog, etc. Further, if you are the normal person, you probably post and interact freely without really considering consequences of those interactions and THAT is what I am discussing here.
I’d like to think that most people are pretty good at self policing and watching what they say online, however, as I have eluded to in my blog series “Fighting Fair on the Internet” that isn’t exactly the case. Through my own personal and business experience I have come to find that people can be very dark and spiteful. There is something about the internet that can bring out the worst in people…kind of like booze. I believe there are a whole host of reasons for that, some of which I discuss in my blog series, however what remains true is that people are now, more than ever, being very “free” with their emotions (positive and negative) and their personally identifying information. Not only does this behavior present some level of risk from a security standpoint, but also a risk to your professional goals.
Some studies suggest that 77% – 80% of employers will “Google” (meaning run a search using the popular search engine, Google) a perspective employee prior to a job interview. Chances are, the statistic is probably similar for any person looking at anyone, for any position, in today’s market. What is your name associated with? Typically it will be associated with professional websites like LinkedIn and social media accounts such as Facebook where you place particular information out there for the public view. In other instances it could be attached to anything else that you have been tagged in, had your name mentioned in, and/or your information has otherwise been placed in the public domain. Do you know, for sure, what that information looks like? Does that information, to the eye of the most strict and ultra conservative individual, give a positive or negative impression of you?
If you feel like you are being turned down for opportunities and you aren’t sure why…maybe it’s time for “check up” on your personal social media presence. The easiest way to do this is to simply run a search for your name, or names that you are known by, via a popular search engine like Google. Another avenue would be to go to the particular social media outlets that you use and check to see what is visible to the public. For example, on Facebook, you can (at least as of this writing) go to Settings, Followers, then “Want to know what followers can see? View your public timeline.” That should show you what people, who are part of the general public, can see about you. Does it give out more information than you would want any perspective employer type person learning about you? If you aren’t sure whether or not the information might be perceived poorly, ask a friend or family member. If you (or your trusted friend) don’t like what you see, and you have control over the information*, start working on a social media clean up. For a whole host of reasons, you will be glad that you did! As my wise grandmother use to say, “it’s okay to maintain a little mystery.”
* For those of you who read this and say “…but what about information that I don’t like that is outside of my control?” understand that topic is a whole other beast, reserved for a wholly separate set of blog postings, on a totally different day.