It’s the week after Barrister’s Ball, and while we all had a great time, there may be some evidence of that night that you’re not proud of. Or that you shouldn’t be proud of. Either way, here’s a quick and easy guide to cleaning up your online presence so that you remain your charming, employable self.
It may seem narcissistic, but this is probably the first thing that an employer will do when researching you online, so make sure that you’re fine with everything an employer will see when she searches for your name. This is a great reason to create a LinkedIn profile—it will definitely show up upon a Google search of your name, pushing negative material lower on a search, and it will give employers a completely appropriate picture of your life. Make sure to remove old, embarrassing Myspace or LiveJournal profiles that you’ve forgotten about.
If you have a common name, you may need to add specific terms about yourself into your search, such as your high school, hometown, or undergraduate institution. You can also set a Google Alert for your name so you know when anything new is posted.
It may be fun to see what your boss is up to in her personal life, but being friends with professional contacts is a bad idea. If you haven’t made your Facebook profile as private as possible and deleted anyone you don’t want seeing embarrassing information, do so immediately. If you don’t protect your tweets, do so immediately. Your only web presence for professional reasons should be LinkedIn or a professional profile through your organization. Everything else should be for friends only.
Refrain from uploading unflattering photos.
It doesn’t matter if your profile is private and you think it will never come to light. Haven’t you watched House of Cards? You have no idea what your future holds and what elaborate background checks will be conducted on you. If you’ve already uploaded questionable photos, delete them. If your friend uploaded them, make her delete them. Sure, Facebook still retains the right to use the photo commercially, but getting it off the Internet is the first step to getting (and keeping) a good job. Requiring approval for friends to tag you in photos is a good additional step, but even if you’re not tagged, as long as the photo is out there, it has potential to damage your professional reputation.
If your friends won’t delete embarrassing photos of you, get new friends. Seriously, that’s just mean.
Control what you can.
You can view what your profile looks like to the public by clicking on the little wheel at the top of your profile. It probably includes your profile photo, cover photo, and the things you “like.” Make sure you would feel comfortable with an employer seeing anything that is public. Remember that the legal profession is conservative, and employers have stricter standards for appropriateness than a fun 20-something. That means no drink in your hand in your profile pic. I know, it’s a cute photo, but take it down.
For more information on maintaining a professional web presence, visit NALP’s e-guides.