It’s been said a million times, but based on what we’re still seeing online, bears repeating: take care when posting pictures and personal information online.
Social media and social networking sites are wonderful! From finding long-lost relatives on Facebook, to connecting with someone at a company you’re dying to work for, sharing through technology is a positive thing. The internet has enriched humanity is countless ways. What we share with the world can have far-reaching impact.
Of course, the flip side of everything being public is…that everything is public. The internet is a shapeless galaxy with no beginning and no end, so who knows how far our posts will float? Therefore, it is prudent to be careful about the image we project online that may be seen by potential employers. The CFO who was considering you for that cushy finance job cannot unsee that unfortunate snapshot of you doing a shot while holding up a particular finger for the viewer. That may not be your normal state, but it will leave an impression.
To minimize this risk, adjust privacy settings on personal accounts, such as Facebook, to the tightest level possible. Remember that some profile pictures will always be public, whether connected to other people or not. Use separate forums for professional and personal contacts. Google yourself to see what a potential hiring manager might see if and when they Google you.
For professional networking sites such as LinkedIn, you don’t need to buy headshots, but put a little effort into your profile picture. It should be properly lit, not an extreme close-up, and project a friendly, approachable image. This is not the place for a photo of you in your award-winning Catwoman costume. Watch your words, too: tweets, comments, posts, etc. Potential employers might judge negatively based on vulgarity, rants, and so on.
In this world where everything is captured and recorded, it’s smart to exercise a little discretion. It may not be completely fair, but it’s reality. Keep an eye on your public presence. The public has its eye on you.