3 Secrets to Help You Protect Your Online Image


By Staff Writer Published on June 13, 2017

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn—the list keeps growing. Social media platforms are abundant and vast. At one time, they were termed "social networking," a place for college students to keep in touch with their friends. Now they are used and misused to find a job and even search a potential employee. How you portray yourself matters.

We are educated individuals. Yet sometimes the texts, statuses, tweets, and pictures used on these sites can work against us. Even the mature adult can easily be goaded into ugly conversations or misleading comments. Here are some takeaways from a study on social media in education1 published by the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education:

“Pictures or comments may remain linked with an individual long after the user's attitudes and behaviors have matured. Furthermore, individuals conversing on social network sites imagine their audience and speak to the generally accepted norms of that audience. What they may not understand is that there may be multiple audiences, including those with some type of power or authority over them. What students perceive as perfectly normal and harmless expressions among friends and classmates (their audience), may be perceived entirely different by parents, faculty members, and current or potential employers.”
—American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

What is your goal? Are you comfortable with the image from your social sites being assessed by a potential employer? A great Reader’s Digest article from April of 20112 quoted 50 secrets your HR person won’t tell you. My three favorites are:

We will judge you based on your e-mail address. Especially if it’s something inappropriate like kinkyboots101@hotmail.com or johnnylikestodrink@gmail.com.” —Rich DeMatteo, a recruiting consultant in Philadelphia

Action Item: Get a professional email address!

You’re right to be paranoid. The company is always watching you, and there’s a record of everything you do: every phone call, every text, and every tweet and instant message. At most companies, they save that data forever.” –Laurie Ruettimann, HR consultant and speaker in Raleigh, N.C.

Action Item: Think twice! Reread every word you write before you send or post it. “Paranoia = Protection”

I know a lot more about you when you walk in the door than you realize. I’ll search for you on the web and often use my own personal network to do a pre-interview reference check.” –Senior HR Executive in New York City.

Action Item: Google yourself. Do the research and find what is out there.

There are not any strict guidelines. However, you should consider the image you want to portray. These social networking sites can help you find a job, highlight your talents, and reach individuals you may not have in the past. They can foster unity among your peers, instructors, and community. They give even the shyest individual a voice to offer opinions and resolutions.

Just please be careful; as Gandhi said, "Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny." What you write on these social media sites could become your legacy.

About the Author

Amy Bjornsrud-Tidwell  is the dean of the School of Technology at Independence University and Stevens-Henager College. She holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with a certificate in educational technology, and a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in entrepreneurship.  Her area of specialization is networking, and she has been teaching CCNA certification courses for eight years.