As a current student at Michigan State University, one subject of intense interest to myself and my fellow students is graduation, and how to prepare for it. Taking those first steps from university to the real world can be intimidating, and many current students are unsure of how to make a smooth transition from co-ed to corporate. How can current college students take charge of their digital personas and put them to work for themselves?
My first piece of advice would be to Google yourself, and look carefully at the results. They might display one of several things:
- That article you wrote for the high school paper
- Pictures of you from last year’s spring break in Cancun
- Nothing at all.
Whatever comes up about you, don’t despair – while high school accomplishments aren’t bad, they aren’t really current and don’t display all of the hard work you’ve been (hopefully) doing in college. While certainly great keepsakes, your spring break pictures don’t really convey a sense of professionalism. If you’re not coming up in search results, maybe you’ve kept a low profile, but isn’t it better to be proactive rather than reactive?
Is this what you want employers to remember about you?
Take charge of your search results! Make a great impression when employers are looking to learn more about you, instead of keeping them in the dark about what a great candidate you would be for that newly-available position. To do this, create some professional profiles for yourself on sites like LinkedIn, Naymz, ZoomInfo, and AboutUs. Make sure that the information you offer up in these profiles is professional and highlights the skills that will help you find the job you want. The Washington Post offers some tips on what to include or keep private on your LinkedIn profile that can be applied to other social media sites.
Part of making the most of your online reputation is keeping some things out of the public eye – for those profiles that are more social than professional, you may want to restrict your privacy settings to make yourself invisible in search results. Facebook offers an option to take yourself out of search engine results, found in the Privacy Settings tab. If you’re proud of your Facebook profile, and think that it passes professional muster, you can also use this feature to create a public search listing for yourself – just make sure your profile isn’t going to keep employers from hiring you.
We’ve all heard about how your digital identity can work against you, but by showcasing your great features in a professional way, you too can feel confident with your online reputation. Social networking doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, so you might as well make sure that your online image makes an excellent impression.
In today’s working world, employers are starting to embrace social networking as a time-saving, financially savvy way to keep their employees connected, according to USA Today, and as a college student or recent grad you will almost be expected to be a social networking guru. Make sure that you exceed the expectations and enhance both your digital and professional reputations.