Current and potential employers conduct a significant amount of research (including background and credit checks) on current/potential employees. What they find out about you from third parties could result in exclusion from candidacy or, for current employer/employee relationships, termination.
Avoid the pitfalls of misrepresentation and begin thinking about ways in which you can positively impact how you present yourself and how others perceive you, personally and professionally. These are just a few of the key questions you should consider sooner, rather than later.
- Do I project a responsible, positive image to the general public? What you do on your own time is your own business, but remember you are a representative of your company at all times, even if you are not in uniform. Also, someone is always watching…do you engage in activities that would comprise you/your position, or the company?
- Do I associate myself with people who are not invested in my personal and professional growth? Consider the company you keep and how they impact your behavior. What does your behavior reflect?
- What would a potential employer say after reviewing my Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, or blog activity? Yes, it does get personal and if you post information on public sites, like those listed above, it is public information, regardless of your privacy settings. On a side note, make sure you have a professional email address. If you do not have one, you can set up multiple email accounts through Yahoo or Gmail.
- What would my previous/current employers or co-workers say about me? While there is very little information a previous employer can offer to a potential employer, the potential employer can infer based on information provided or omitted. However, co-workers no longer employed with the company can provide as little or as much information as they like. So be careful when you’re considering who to select as a reference.
- Do I maintain professional decorum when interacting in the classroom or with College staff? You should go into each new module with the understanding that you could be working with or working for one of your peers. First impressions are a start, but be cognizant of things that do not present you in a good light. These include hostility, confrontational responses, submitting work late (and the number of times), lack of participation, absenteeism, appearance, and displays of disrespect towards another student or the instructor.
- As a student, have I acted with and maintained academic integrity? Basically, have you cheated or plagiarized during your education? If you are concerned with maintaining academic integrity, please review the Student Handbook.
- Overall, do I conduct myself in a professional manner? Your surroundings and interactions should reflect your professionalism. Consider your work environment; do you have items on your desk that could send the wrong message (inappropriate books, magazines, calendars)? Are your interactions with supervisors or subordinates borderline inappropriate? Sometimes hiring personal friends for a position can be a challenge if either of you begin to find it difficult to distinguish between personal and professional.
Heather Gunn is the Associate Dean of Business for the Online department of Stevens-Henager College. She has an MBA with an emphasis in Marketing from Colorado Technical University and a BS in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. She is currently working on her EdD in Higher Education and Adult Learning with Walden University. Heather Gunn has worked in higher education for over nine years and has served in many roles, including Student Services, Admissions, Faculty, and Faculty Development. Additional experience outside the educational environment include the ownership of her own consulting business (UglyBaby, Inc.), restaurant management, community relations, promotions, and sales.
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