Even if you do not think so, somebody other than yourself has more than likely typed your name into the Google search box. When people want to know something about you without speaking to you directly, they search the internet to find out about your online identity. Anything they find will add to your online identity, and can sometimes taint your reputation. An online identity does not just cover stuff that you put on the internet, but anything anybody has said or posted about you (including pictures) can be on the internet without you even knowing. When people search for information about you on the internet, they are trying to find out what kind of person you are. This could be a possible employer, a possible date (online dating), or even somebody just who knows about your work and wants to find a little more about you. Now this is not to say, “Do not post any personal information on the net,” but you do need to be aware of all personal information that is out there from your address to pictures of you falling on yourself at a New Year’s party. If there is such information available about you, make sure it is private and can only be seen by approved parties.
Make your Facebook and MySpace accounts private, and make sure you “un-tag” yourself from any unwanted photos on a friend’s page. You can test to see if this works by logging out of any social networking site, then try to look at your page(s) as a visitor. If you can see anything that you do not want potential employers (or say…your grandmother) to see, you have some more clicking to do before your online identity is acceptable for the world of business.
Once this is done, there are a number of sites that can get your online identity out in the employment arena so that your résumé catches someone’s eye. Creating a virtual business card will help you improve your identity, as well as creating profiles on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn or Spoke. This is actually the most important step; making your social networking accounts private is just to separate your personal life from your professional life.
After that, just polish up your résumé and make sure it is available for prospective employers. Here is one last tip for having a magnificent online identity: keep it current. Anything that you have out there for professionals to see needs to be kept up to date. If you change jobs, move, or complete a degree, make sure that your professional profiles say so. Also, if you are working on notable projects at work, add them to your online identity by listing them on your profiles (LinkedIn/Spoke).
If you follow this guide, you should have a good looking online identity that you can be proud of.