You never get a second chance to make a first impression. It’s a well-worn cliché, but it’s one you should continue to heed throughout your job search.
Once upon a time, first impressions were made with firm handshakes in face-to-face meetings. Today, however, that is not the case. You already made your first impression online, whether you realize it or not.
According to the CareerBuilder Annual Social Media Recruitment Survey (2015), 52 percent of employers prescreen you (aka low-key stalk you) on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media before committing serious interest to hiring you.
What are employers looking for exactly?
Employers want to know what they’ve always wanted to know:
- Are you qualified for the job?;
- Will you do the job if you’re hired?; and
- Will you fit in with their organization?
Only now, they have the added benefit of an overabundance of technology to help them form an opinion.
Employers want to know if you have a professional online presence, and they want to know if the online you matches the one you’ve so eloquently presented on your resume.
Employers also reportedly check out what others are saying about you, and some of them are looking for any reason not to hire you.
What’s a job-seeker to do?
Before you can determine whether the virtual image you’re projecting is the one you want potential employers to see, Google yourself. You might be surprised to learn you are not the only you out there. While you’re at it, set up a Google Alert on yourself too, so you don’t miss any future results.
Assess your findings.
The single question you have to answer is easy. Would you hire you (WYHY)?
- Do you appear to be professionally reputable in your career field?
- How would someone know?
- Where does your name show up and in what context? How frequently?
- Do you communicate well in writing or have you OMG 4got10 English altogether?
Should your search turn up less-than-flattering photos, long-winded rants on all subjects controversial, or any instance of you spewing negativity about past or present employers, begin the cleanup process posthaste. The delete button is your friend. REPEAT. The delete button is your friend.
While you’re at it, adjust the privacy settings wherever you socially interact online and don’t stop the clean-up process until you can answer WYHY? with a resounding, YES!
Assess your lack of findings.
If your sleuthing turns up nothing at all about you, then you have another kind of problem. You have no professional online identity and that’s not going to help you make a good impression, either. Employers, after all, like to hire the known over the unknown.
In this case, you need to think about how you want to be viewed online and begin the process of creating that online you. Think strategically. Communicate appropriately. Contribute regularly. Eventually, search engines will start to recognize your name.
Routinely monitor your online presence.
Change is not only a constant in life, but also online. Routinely monitor your virtual presence to ensure it continues to present you professionally and personally in the best light.
Employers might be checking you out but job seekers can play that game, too. You feel?