February 14th, 2008 Jamie
Have you ever googled yourself, just to see what would come up? Well, you might not be the only one.
A few months ago I read an article about how a LiveJournal blog kept one student from being admitted to Reed College in Portland. I looked a little further into it, and found out that over the past year articles about Facebook & MySpace affecting students’ ability to graduate and find jobs after high school have popped up in the Washington Post, U.S. News, and the New York Times. In fact, my own supervisor told me that he googles potential employees before hiring!
With potential employers-and colleges-able to gain access to MySpace, Facebook, personal blogs, and lots of other information online, you need to rethink the “anonymity” of the internet. Here are a couple ideas that may help you protect your privacy online:
- Limit Access. Facebook and MySpace both offer options that limit who can view your profile; they also have options that allow people to view only the portions of your profile that you specify. Most blogs have this option, too.
- Google Yourself. Seriously. Run a google search on your name, and see what comes up. Try the other popular search engines, too. If there is anything questionable-that includes inappropriate jokes or anything-try to get it taken down!
- Guard Your Words. If you have something to say that could possibly taken the wrong way by a potential boss or admissions officer (or anything that is too personal for them to know), you’re better off NOT posting it in a public place. Instead, keep personal comments safer by writing them in more private correspondence like emails or IMs. And if someone else leaves a questionable comment on your page, better make it private or delete it-just to be safe.
Oh, and if you don’t like your current job or boss, you might want to leave that tidbit out of your profile. Just in case.
Facebooking college committees and employers don’t have to slow you down-in fact, if you play your cards right, it could even be a good thing. Why waste the opportunity to promote yourself if they’re looking anyway?
Think of your social networking sites as dual-purpose-not just as a place to connect with friends, but also as a sort of virtual résumé. It’s totally fine to have appropriate personal info & photos up to share with friends-your future boss will probably still hire you even if you have a penchant for action movies-but don’t neglect to point out your strong points, and even past work experience (if you feel comfortable sharing that).
You can also use sites like Facebook, MySpace, or a personal blog as a portfolio. If you’re an artist or a writer, for example, consider posting some of your pieces for viewing (unless they’re copyrighted by someone else, like work you may have done for a previous employer). It’s an easy way to offer access to your body of work.