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How to manage your online presence for your career

Tips for making sure your online footprint helps—not hurts—your professional goals.

It’s common for employers to search for applicants online and look at their social media profiles. And depending on what they find, it can either help or hurt your chances of getting the job. So we’ve outlined a few basic steps you can take to build an online presence that enhances, not takes away from, your application.

Check your current footprint

Your first step is to do an online search of your first and last name and see what comes up. If you want to go the extra mile, you can also set up an alert on your name so you’re updated on any new content. 

Go through at least the first few pages of the search results. Be sure to try a few different search combinations, including your name and school name, your name and city, and any usernames. 

If you find anything that’s inappropriate, or you wouldn’t want a hiring manager to see, contact the owner of the website and ask them to take it down. If there’s an embarrassing photo from a friend’s social media, remove any tags that identify you, or ask them if they can remove the photo.

Quick tips

  • Review your social media privacy settings, and make sure you know who can see your information. Consider making some of your accounts private. And pay attention to the privacy policy updates you receive—rules of privacy can change.
  • Depending on the search engines you use, there may be easy-to-find steps to take to remove personal information from search listings. 
  • Be careful with all of your profile pictures. Even if your accounts are private, these may not be. Replace any that you think are inappropriate for a professional contact or hiring manager to see.
  • Be selective about who you connect with on social media. Go through your lists of friends and connections regularly.
  • If you’re out with friends and someone takes a photo of you that you don’t want online, ask them nicely not to publish it.

Moving forward: think before you post

Always think carefully before you post anything online. You want to be absolutely sure that it won’t damage your professional reputation or career opportunities. Being proactive will keep you from having to comb through your content to remove anything, or needing to contact websites to help you.

You also want to avoid posting anything negative about someone else, including classmates, former coworkers, professors, etc. These kinds of negative posts not only could hurt someone else’s reputation, but they’ll reflect poorly on you as well.

Be aware that if you want to remove negative posts, it may take a while for them to disappear from search results. It’s always better to not post something you may regret, rather than deleting it later!

Photo courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

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