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Frank Reynold

Do You Care For Your Professional Online Image?

Frank Reynold

Maintaining a good online image is important especially for students and job seekers. Today, most employers would search you online to have an idea about this prospect employee that would integrate their business.

So, you should be mindful of what they would find. Do you have professional social media profiles? Do you post comments and photos that would make reconsider a job offer?  Then, you should take care of your online prints and make sure that your online image is good and professional.

A group of researchers from Central Michigan University, USA and Australian National University, Australia have led a study in which they investigated factors that influence a student’s concern for presenting a professional online image. The study is published in Journal of Internet Social Networking & Virtual Communities.

A lot of people don’t consider that what they are posting and sharing online may be viewed by other people other than their friends. Thus, a lot of them don’t filter what they are posting. For students and job seekers, this is a mistake that would prevent a prospect job offer.

Researchers of the study stated that “according to a recent survey of more than 600 human resources and recruiting professionals, 70.3% of respondents always or occasionally review a candidate’s social networking profile”. This means that your posts might play a big role in the employee’s decision to get you recruited. “Companies are now being advised to use social networking sites when making hiring decisions… 35% of employers reported they have found content on social networking sites that caused them not to hire a candidate” the study stated.

Researchers investigated some factors that might strongly affect students’ online image including time to graduation, social factors, privacy concern and being on the (job) market.

Student’s Time to Graduation

Researchers reported a number of studies that explored this concern.  The study stated for instance that “previous research has shown that the earlier students are in their college careers, the more likely they are to post material that they acknowledge would be seen as inappropriate by potential employers”.

Instead, when “students approach graduation, they begin to view the process of getting a job in a much more concrete way.  This may cause them to remove inappropriate content because they now realize their online image could put their job search in jeopardy.”

Student’s Social Factors

Studies noticed that students’ social milieu has effects on his behaviors. The study stated that “, the posting behavior of a student’s friends will directly affect what the student posts.  If the student’s friends post content in their profile that is less than professional, the student is also likely to post unprofessional content in order to comply with the group norm.  On the other hand, if the student’s friends are concerned about presenting professional images online, then the student is likely to do the same.”

Student’s Privacy Concern

Researchers scrutinized the impact of privacy concern on students’ online image. The study noticed that even “the desire for privacy may seem universal, for many social networking users, it does not appear to be a major concern.”  Privacy is not a major concern for all people, instead “It varies from person to person based on each individual’s perceptions and values.  This means that student concern for privacy is likely to span the gamut from highly concerned to completely unconcerned.”

On social media, it’s never privacy is never completely guaranteed. Researchers stated that even “students with an elevated concern for privacy would also be concerned with the image presented in their online profile.”

Student’s Job Search

Searching for a job and being in the job market differs from student to other. “Although many students begin applying for professional jobs during their senior year (close to graduation), there are some students who begin the job search much earlier, seeking co-ops and internships as early as their freshman year (far from graduation)” the study stated.

The student’s behavior changes when he “considers him, or herself, to be on the market”. When search for job is “much more concrete in the student’s mind… the student will change his, or her, behavior to conform to the job-seeking goal.  In terms of social networks, this should result in a change to posting content that creates a more professional online image” the study mentioned.

Some Tips to Build Good Online Image

Maintaining a good online presence is something necessary for those who care about their image, especially students and job seekers. Here are some tips that might be of great help to keep a neat image that would help recruiters pick you for a prospect job.

Google yourself. Make sure that you Google your name regularly to see what is shown in the search engine about you. If your name is related for instance to half-dressed and naked pictures or any inappropriate content, then this is not a good sign of your online reputation.

Clean your social media profiles. What you share is what you are, simple as this. Other people, rather than your friends, including employers, are likely to visit your social media profiles. So, if they find inappropriate content shared on your profile, then it would negatively impact their decision to recruit you.

You may make your profiles more personal by considering Privacy Settings, but it’s never guaranteed that what privacy won’t be breached. Yet, the safest way of keeping inappropriate content out of sight is by not publishing it.

Build a personal website or blog. The first step of having a good online presence is not posting inappropriate content, and the second is correlating your name with good content. You can do that by creating your own website or blog and updating it with content that reflect your skills. So, when someone searches your name, search engines will show that content and you’ll get chance of being noticed by employers.

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