Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Managing Your Digital Dirt

Digital dirt is the information you put out on the Internet -- your hobbies, your photos, your rants and raves. Digital dirt can also include inflated academic achievements, radical political views, off-color jokes or YouTube videos. Some extreme examples include negative comments about neighbors or former employers. Anything you post on Social Media is potentially open for the entire cosmos to read. Privacy settings are not fool proof, so don’t be naive. You want to use Social Media responsibly.

What you might not realize is that your “digital dirt” can also affect your job search efforts. Today’s recruiters use Social Media to find, source and connect with talented candidates. WGU Career & Professional Development can help turn your digital dirt into digital gold. Employers use Social Media to screen applicants and there are plenty of cases where some Facebook profiles, blogs, and postings can derail job prospects even before an interview is considered. I've had recruiters tell me that certain job offers have been revoked due to a closer look at the candidate’s Facebook and Twitter activity.  Find out how you can enhance your profile so that you can avoid this from happening to you?

The safest and quickest way to put your best Facebook forward is to clean up your profile and your entire account, if necessary. Remove any questionable materials, sayings, comments, etc. “Repurpose” your Facebook and Twitter accounts to look, read and feel more professional. This can make the difference between getting a job offer or being passed over.

Stay in control. You can choose who can post comments or tag you in photos. Stay tuned in to your account and scrub any salacious comments or racy pictures that make it to your account. Unfortunately, you could be buried in digital dirt due to “guilt by association”.

Google Thyself. This is also commonly known as “narcisurfing”. Search for yourself on the web and see what comes up. You can also set up Google alerts from the Google dashboard to see if your name comes up in any searches. If there are any unflattering pictures of you they can be either removed from your Flickr or Instagram account or you can adjust your privacy settings to help filter them out. If you do nothing, eventually the content will drop off or get pushed “down further” in the results in favor of other competing content. But, it would just take longer.

Another way to reduce the visibility of any negative or questionable content is to create positive content which will affect Search Engine Optimization ratings (SEO). SEO is based on keywords and phrases used in internet searches. Posting and publishing positive SEO information about yourself “pushes” the other, negative, content further and further down in the search results. You can also re-write your personal profiles on sites like Facebook and Twitter which carry more SEO power.

As I mentioned before, your online profile and results from SEO searches like Google can affect your job prospects. Brand-yourself, the online reputation company, says that 75% of HR departments are required to Google applicants. So, you better look good online! They also claim that 85% of hiring managers make a decision to advance your application or not based on your Google results. We can help!  Contact WGU’s Career & Professional Development Center to find out more!

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