As jobseekers kick their search for employment into high gear following the holiday break, it's time to make sure their online images are in top shape.
One unprofessional online picture or social media post could mean a lost opportunity – particularly in a time when employers often are faced with a variety of good candidates.
"I've always said that everything you do or say qualifies as public relations – and nowhere is this more true than online, where information lives forever, whether fact or fiction," said Howard Bragman, publicist and vice chairman of the online-reputation-management firm Reputation.com.
Bragman offers 10 tips for those trying to improve their online appearance in 2012.
- Engage With the Internet: You can't pretend it doesn't matter. It does.
- Take Your Pulse: Use Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines to regularly check your online reputation.
- Own Yourself. Buy your URL, and set up accounts in your name on major social media and business networking websites.
- Set up Alerts:Be the first to know when people are talking about you – on mainstream media as well as social media.
- Check That the Internet Reflects Reality: Just because you're a good person offline doesn't mean you'll look good online. Truth is not an effective defense, and there is no statute of limitations on the Web.
- Max Out Privacy Settings: Social media privacy settings have a tendency to revert to default, and should be checked and adjusted regularly.
- Know Your Friends; Be Wary Of Strangers: Would you let a stranger roam your home?Don't let just anyone into your circle of trust online.
- Behave As If There Is No Such Thing As Privacy:Any email, tweet, social media post, or text has the distinct possibility of being made public.
- Have Your Say: Comment regularly on major sites or blogs that are relevant to you, in order to move positive search rankings up.
- Know When to Call in the Professionals:Online-reputation-management companies or Internet-defamation attorneys can be called for expert help in repairing a damaged online image or ensuring it doesn't get that far.