Are you making a good online first impression?

17 August by Miriam Heale


In a world of ‘always online’ we are becoming increasingly interconnected. Intuitive marketing is so sophisticated it can work out that an old school friend likes the same band as you and, through a series of clever prompts, can not only get you to reconnect, but get you to go to the gig together. Then not speak for another twenty years…

The point is all of our data is out there to be scrutinised. Short of going ‘off grid’ or setting up a series of dummy profiles so you become the internet equivalent of Jason Bourne: it’s incredibly important to make sure that you aren’t harming your job prospects by having an online presence that would make your great aunt Mildred clutch her pearls.

Think of yourself as a brand. You have a corporate identity, core values, features (qualifications) and benefits (skills and experience).

Whilst this may seem strange and even unnecessary, view it in terms of how our perception of a brand influences how much we like them. You want to do everything you can do avoid tarnishing your brand:

1. Separate Your Personal and Professional personas

There have been a number of instances – some even made headlines – where people have lost out on jobs, or even lost jobs, because of the content on their Facebook page.

When creating a personal brand you need to consider either sanitising your page of anything that you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see or locking it down so only friends can see your content.

The latter is certainly the easier (and more secure) option; just remember that profile pictures, mobile uploads and featured photos can still be viewable so make sure there’s nothing inflammatory on there.

Similarly modify your personal Twitter account, so if a hiring manager does perform a search on your name, your account won’t be in the results. Again, whilst your Twitter account may not be the most riveting read, you don’t want a heated argument over which Star Trek captain was best affecting your chances of employment.

2. Sanitise the Internet

Take some time to clean up anything unprofessional you may have posted online, be it a forum, on a YouTube channel or comment section of a website.

Obvious examples are inappropriate photos, offensive/abusive/negative comments. It’s better to err on the side of caution and remove even the most minor of jibe as you don’t want to be seen as confrontational.

If you write for or run a blog make sure you’re either happy for that blog to be associated with you or change your name/handle so it cannot be.

You want to be left with a digital landscape bereft of anything that could reflect poorly on you. Remember, this isn’t a cover up. You’re not hiding who you are, but instead recognising the inescapable truth of the always online world in which we now live.

Before you share anything there are three simple questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Would my friends like it?
  2. Would my parents/grandparents/conservative family member like it?
  3. Would my kids/nephews/nieces like it?

If the answer to two of those is yes you are probably fine. If the answer to two of those is no then you’re probably not. The questions act as a simple gauge to assess the likelihood of offending people with content impulsively shared.

Again, this isn’t about censoring yourself but ensuring that your public online presence is one of professionalism and courtesy.

3. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the world’s largest business networking site and its membership grows daily. Whilst it may never be as big as Facebook, it will always be better for networking and showcasing your professional persona.

Dedicate time to really making your LinkedIn profile shine:

Make sure you have a professional looking profile picture. You on a beach, in a bar or in the bathroom does not a good impression make.

Ideally try and get someone to take a picture for you, dressed appropriately against a white background. Resist the urge to apply Snapchat filters.

Write a structured summary that demonstrates your passion and commitment to your profession. It’s arguably one of the most important parts of your profile so producing something well written that includes appropriate keywords will significantly improve your chances of being found.

Make sure your skills and interests are up to date and your employment history is both accurate and relevant.

Finally avoid sharing content that isn’t related to your business or markets and any comments you post should be positive and constructive. Avoid getting drawn in to a protracted war of words with someone trying to promote a Ponzi scheme.

If you do all of these things and you will stand a much greater chance of making a good online first impression. At the very least you’ll avoid some awkward questions resulting from the hiring manager visiting your Facebook page prior to interview.

If you’re searching for a new role or we can support you with a requirement, we’d like to hear from you. Contact us today to speak to one of our specialist technical recruiters; 01202 888 986