Protecting your online personal brand

Man on his computer protecting his personal brand online

Whether we like to admit it or not, social media plays a significantly growing role in both our personal and working life.

If you are job hunting, how you are perceived online can have a major impact on employers’ decision to invite you for an interview. And with more than half of employers researching potential employees on social media before making a job offer, it is your responsibility to clean up your image across public platforms.

 

So, how can you actively use social media to its full advantage to help you develop your career while avoiding that your online presence negatively impacts your job search?

Els Van Der Veken, Senior Manager of Walters People Ghent, advises on how to across some of the top social platforms: Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Twitter

With the exception of professionals working in the marketing or communication sector, Twitter is usually considered more appropriate for personal use.

If you are indeed working in a sector which values an active presence on platforms such as Twitter, try to engage in online discussions relevant to your field of expertise.

“It is a great way to demonstrate your understanding of social media’s importance in your field of work and will showcase skills that you could apply in the workplace." Says Els Van Der Veken.

Even if having an active Twitter presence is an important selling point for your potential new employers, you can still choose to hide who you follow and who follows you from others by creating private lists. This will allow employers to view your Twitter feed without divulging information about who is connected to you.

If you do not work in such sectors, your Twitter presence may be solely for personal use only and should therefore be protected. Take advantage of the privacy settings available to hide personal information from the public including your tweets, tweets you’re tagged in, people you follow, and people who follow you.

Note that even if you have made your profile private, employers will still be able to see details in your bio. Avoid putting any inappropriate content in this section – remove any information you wouldn’t want an employer to know.

Following these simple steps can reduce the chance of making a negative first impression on an employer before even having had the chance to have an interview.

Facebook

70% of employers believe that Facebook is not a suitable professional networking tool and should be kept solely for personal use only.

With this in mind, making your Facebook page private and inaccessible to anyone outside your social circle is a sensible precaution.

Here are some key steps to make sure you are keeping your profile private:

  • Stay up to date on Facebook’s privacy settings
  • Remove your Facebook page from Google searches.
  • Make sure you know what information is accessible and to who.
  • Keep your photographs, posts and tags hidden.

If you do decide to keep your profile public, assume that anything you post could be seen by a potential employer, and choose what appears on your timeline accordingly.

“Never use Facebook as a place to let out all your grievances about your job.There have been a number of cases where people have lost their jobs based on comments they have made via Facebook.”

 If there is something bothering you speak to your manager and try to resolve it.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the most widely used online professional networking platform. It has become the default social network for professionals to engage, interact, and swap ideas relating to their industry. LinkedIn can help you develop your personal brand and help you build your online reputation.

It has also become fairly common for employers to first review LinkedIn profiles in order to get a first glimpse at an applicant’s professional background before even deciding whether or not to invite them on an interview.

Your profile is the key component of your experience on LinkedIn. A complete profile shows you’re actively participating in the LinkedIn ecosystem.

“Make sure it highlights the key responsibilities and accomplishments in your career that will grab the attention of an employer and help you stand out from the crowd.” Says Els.

LinkedIn is also an important platform to discuss developments and trends in your industry with other professionals. Joining groups and actively partaking in discussions  can help show to employers that you are engaged with your industry.

LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements are another brilliant tool to influence your profile and online reputation. This will allow employers to see what others perceive your strengths, influencing whether or not you could be invited for an interview. 

"We know that the majority of employers  view LinkedIn profiles as an important part of their hiring process. Use your LinkedIn profile to demonstrate your proactive approach and give you an edge over other candidates.” Concludes Els.

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