When you’re job searching, you no doubt have so many things on your to-do list (update your resume, tailor your cover letters, make sure you have the right interview outfit), that you may be tempted to skim over an important factor: your online presence.
Maybe you think that you’re all set—your old college photos have been deleted from Facebook and your LinkedIn profile is current. Or, perhaps you haven’t bothered to develop much of an online persona at all, so you think you’ve got nothing to worry about. Regardless of how your digital self can be characterized, you can’t underestimate the importance of it.
The nature of today’s job search and recruiters’ tendency to take a deep look at a candidate’s online presence means that you have to be extra careful about what’s out there—and what’s not. The lies you’re telling yourself can actually mean the difference between a job offer and a rejection letter (and nobody wants that!).
1. “I Won’t Be Judged By What I Have (or Don’t Have) Online”
We’ve all been told over and over to be mindful of what we put on Facebook. But, if you take that advice at face value, you’re missing out on huge portion of your online presence. When you Google yourself (most hiring managers will do just this), make note of which other sites link to your name. Maybe you’ve got an outdated (possibly embarrassing) Reddit profile or Pinterest page that’s you rather not have a future employer see.
Now’s the time to do a thorough review of everything out there tied to your name. While you can’t delete everything from Google search like an online newspaper story that mentions your name, or a profile on an old site that won’t let you delete your account, you can at least be aware of anything you may need to acknowledge or explain to your interviewer like that controversial article you’re quoted in, or the traffic misdemeanor from nine years ago that still shows up.
2. “I Only Need a Portfolio or Personal Website for a Creative Career”
It’s true that almost every “creative” position (like designer, developer, creative director, writer) requires a portfolio of sorts, but, you shouldn’t rule out the usefulness of having your own personal website even if you’re not looking for a creative job.
It comes in handy when applying to almost any position: You’ll look tech-savvy, professional, and it may even help bump your resume to the top of the pile. And, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy; it can literally have just one page.
3. “It’s Too Late to Start”
Maybe your prior profession didn’t require (or even encourage) social media participation. And now you’re looking to transition to a job in a different field. Let’s say the rules for this career path are completely different from your last, and an online presence is highly encouraged, and pretty much expected, of all applicants—and you don’t have one!
Don’t let your lack of a Twitter following, or even the absence of a LinkedIn profile discourage you from getting on board at last. It’s really never too late to build a personal brand and showcase yourself and your accomplishments online.
You’ll have to clear some space on your schedule to dive in, but after a few hours of completing the initial setup and learning your way around the different platforms, 15 minutes a day or so is plenty to keep you current. Although you may not have the same knowledge as some of your competition who have been using these tools for years, at least you’ll show that you’re aware of what’s a normal web presence for the career you’re transitioning to, and you’re making progress to get there.
Whether you’re a social-media guru or a relatively new user, it’s always worth sifting through what information you have out on the web—especially when you’re on the hunt for a new job. It’ll help you be confident that your in-person and your online personas align to how you want to present yourself to the world (and especially, your interviewer), and it just might help you on your way to that dream job.
Photo of person on social media courtesy of Henrik Sorensen/Getty Images.