October is National Cyber Security Month, and while you’re probably already aware of the beauties and dangers of the Internet, you might not know just how important it is to closely monitor what you put online. According to Forbes, employers frequently search the online profiles of applicants to note where their passions lie and to uncover any red flags. Some have even predicted that building your personal brand online will soon replace the traditional resume that professionals have come to know. In the spirit of the season, here’s some step-by-step instruction for making the best name for your digital self.
1. Keep your personal life in check
It’s a basic rule that you most likely learned when you first created a social media account, but it’s still worth stressing. Use caution when posting photos and statuses on your personal accounts, even if you have privacy settings in place that block those outside of your network from viewing them. A simple screenshot posted by a friend is all it takes to share a private picture or message with the world. Prospective employers or valuable connections could stumble upon it, and your future could be negatively affected, as a result. If you’re about to post something and you’re unsure of how it will be perceived, you’re better off keeping it to yourself. There are also certain apps and services available, like Persona, that scour your online accounts and flag anything from your past and current posts that could hurt your professional credibility.
“Recruiters are looking at [social media] at critical times in life, like for college admissions or employment,” Lee Sherman, CEO and founder of the app, told USA Today. “[A status update or photo] has the potential to be life-changing.”
2. Make sure you have the basics
Even those who aren’t searching specifically for online marketing jobs need to at least have a few digital points of reference for their potential employers. Forbes recommended that each professional has several of the main social media accounts, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and a profile on Google. Even if you choose to keep most of your information private, it’s important to show that you’re technologically savvy and that you’re a real person. If an employer searches your name and nothing pops up specific to you, it could be questionable and cause him or her to favor another candidate who took the time to establish an online presence.
3. Take advantage of new online features
By now, you should be aware of the changes that have been made to LinkedIn. New features have been added that allow you to include links to relevant projects, clips and news items that promote your skills and show employers examples of the work you’ve done. Taking advantage of what’s new keeps your profile fresh and exciting. Plus, when you show that you’re an early adopter of certain technology and online services, it reflects positively on your professional career. It signals to employers that you’re likely a fast learner who can understand concepts and seamlessly adapt to change. Aside from LinkedIn, there are other ways to use technology to help boost your credibility. Since marketing is gravitating toward video, it may be a good idea to take a quick (think seven-second) video of an interesting campaign or project you worked on and post it to your Vine or Instagram account. This could especially help those vying for a career in marketing grab the attention of employers who are shifting their gears to a more interactive plan to reach their customers.
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