Your online identity is defined by any and all online information that exists about you, whether you personally created it or not. Social networking sites, including Facebook, are part of your public image. The material you post and the things you write can influence an employer's or graduate schools’ impression of you, for better or for worse. If you can Google it, so can someone else.
Check Your Online Identity
Find out what already exists online and then ask yourself some important questions.
- Is your public email address(es) professional? (email@example.com is not professional)
- Listen to your voicemail prompt and ringback music, is it professional?
- Google yourself. Any surprises?
- Check out your profile information on each social networking site (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) to which you belong.
- How public or private is it?
- Would you be comfortable if an employer or graduate school were to see your profile? Photos? Comments? Friends’ comments? “Likes”? Groups?
- Are you tagged in any photos online you wouldn’t want potential employers to see?
Clean Up Your Space and Create a Positive Professional Identity
Target potential problems you’ve identified and clean them up. Start with what’s in your control, like your own Facebook profile and blog, then contact friends regarding the embarrassing photos in which you are tagged. There are some pieces that are a part of the public record and can't be removed, like police logs and newspaper articles. If there is information on the web that you would rather employers or schools not see, you must be particularly diligent in building your identity on high traffic sites so that less flattering information will appear lower on a Google search. Build a positive and professional identity through blogging, membership in related online groups or chat rooms, online résumés or CVs, online portfolios for the creative fields, and an active LinkedIn profile.