By Mary Blake, Senior Manager, JCS Career Center
If you are not familiar with online websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc., it may seem very overwhelming to develop a safe, professional online presence. Or maybe you are already on these sites, but have mainly used them for social purposes. Either way, if you want to use them to expand your networking, they can be helpful in your job search, if used properly.
Knowing how to keep your personal information safe and confidential is not easy, so no wonder you are nervous about joining these sites that ask for all sorts of details about you. I would encourage you to research and read up on the security options for each site as you enter your personal information. For example, be careful about giving your full birthdate and full name. Also make sure you choose a strong password, and don’t give out your Social Security number to anyone unless it is to take a job! You can usually put zero’s and the last 4 digits of your Social Security number when applying for work; then once you receive the offer, give them the full number.
Google yourself often or search other common search engines to see what is showing up under your name. Many employers screen out candidates based on what they find online, which could be too much information or incorrect information. Depending on what job you are applying for, such as marketing or social media positions, not enough of an online presence can be a turn off to employers. If you do find misleading or incorrect information under your same name, then address it up front by adding your correct site links on your resume or discussing it in the interview. Chances are the employer won’t bring it up if they find it, so you will need to do it so as not to be screened out.
“Since an overwhelming 93% of employers use LinkedIn to headhunt candidates, it’s definitely a must for you to publicize your LinkedIn profile in order to appear in search results. The same applies to other social network sites like Facebook (66%) and Twitter (54%).” (see http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/optimizing-online-presence-for-jobs/)
Just as you want to project with your resume, when you are searching for a job or promoting your business online, you must be professional and show your best side on your sites. Be sure you are not posting anything with profanity, grammar or spelling mistakes, mentions of alcohol or drug consumption, or religious or political posts. This includes belonging to online groups that may have posts with these topics also.
Show off your talents online and support what your resume says about you. Associations, professional groups, volunteer and fundraising organizations related to your field are great to highlight on your sites. Being proactive and knowledgeable about how to put your professional image online should pay off with more offers and opportunities!
By Mary Blake, Senior Manager, Career Center, Jewish Community Services, Baltimore, MD
JCS offers a full range of career services. For more information about the JCS Career Center click here or call 410-466-9200.