Who you are Online.

The first five minutes you spend meeting someone make an impression that is hard to change once they’ve made up their mind about who you are. Show up to a professional interview these days in anything less than a suit and tie you’ll probably find yourself walking out of there with not a whole lot to show for it, no matter how well you fit the job. If you start with a solid first impression it is much easier to convince people of your way of thinking, whether that be giving you a job or inviting you up to their boudoir.

The same can be said for your online profile. In essence this is the parts of yourself that you have either purposefully put up there, social networking or otherwise, or have been put up there for you. Whilst it is still a new practice many employers now screen employees through a quick Google search, a hunt around Facebook or other social networking sites and then do the traditional call up to your referees. It’s that first look up of you online that could sway an employer one way or the other, and whether you think that’s fair or not is really beside the point.

I’ll be honest and say when I first thought of this blog I thought it would be a great platform to launch myself from professionally. There’s nothing better then handing a new potential employer or client a business card with your website address on it because, guaranteed, they’ll look it up to see what kinds of things you get up to online. Unfortunately for me, employers who overlook the card and go for a straight Google will probably find my Facebook page long before they find this, since it seems to come up at the top of the results all the time (Yes, yes Googling yourself is sad. But you knew I was a geek before you got here, right?).

Just like the real world though it’s not like this isn’t a manageable part of your professional and personal life. Really it’s all about putting on that suit for your online personality. The general sentiment I get from other people is that they feel Facebook is some kind of secret safe haven away from all the dangers of the Internet where they can bare all and not face repercussions because of this. When in reality, you should really treat it as you would in real life, if you wouldn’t want to share something would you really give them access to it?

I guess I’m fairly lucky when it comes to my online personality. The first two links are for Facebook and LinkedIn, which is probably what I want most of my employers to see first. My friends and I have an unspoken agreement where we don’t put up potentially damaging or criminal content (not that I’d have any of that anyway! ;)) and LinkedIn doesn’t really give you any avenues to make a complete fool of yourself. Going through the rest of it there’s a couple things from back in my programming days on google groups, and some references to other Klemkes around the world.

So treat your online self as you would your real self. Buy it a suit, let it go and party but make sure those two things don’t cross unless you want them to 🙂

5 Comments

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  1. So, given that you seem to be in the camp of people who want to attempt to maintain some compartmentalization of their lives and propogate a split-personality syndrome where you act like different people at work and at home, I won’t link directly to the unfortunately named site that comes up when I google your name. It gives all our names together in one convenient location, too! I can’t even believe that place is still up, actually… from way back in ’02. I think everyone was careful even back then, with appropriate moderation and whatnot, but hmm….

    Anyway, screw that shit. I am who I am and I firmly believe that any action I have taken in the past has helped my perspective on life and work in some way, and I refuse to acknowledge as news something like Micheal Phelps smoking up along with the majority of his college year. It’s like making news out of the fact that some people get naked and have sex.

    Also, googling yourself isn’t sad anymore. It’s just good brand management (which, I know goes against everything I just said about not giving a stuff ;P)

  2. I don’t really act that differently between work and home, more I was trying to show that people tend to treat their online life as completely personal, and are shocked when it comes back to haunt them professionally. Sure personal things should stay personal, but when you put up pictures of yourself so drunk you can’t see straight and an employer stumbles upon them on Facebook, who is really to blame here?

    I really don’t advocate living 2 lives, as that isn’t the kind of thing that the human brain was designed to do. More I wanted to say that you should do the same thing for your online self as you would do for your real self. I.E. don’t take pictures of you streaking the local cricket ground around with you and show them to anyone who asks and so on.

    It is quite amazing that the particular site you make reference to is still up, with all of the original content in its former glory. Whilst it would probably be detrimental to my case for an employer to find that I’d hope they’d realise the majority of it was posted over 5 years ago, although I know I couldn’t trust them to be that thorough.

    That all being said, giving your employer a site like this one typically stops the search there. Although I know I’m shooting myself in the foot by posting this comment (and thus letting any future employer know there is some dirt on me) I’m sure they’ll be able to realise that I’m not the person I was 7 years ago 🙂

  3. In regards to who is at fault if an employer finds photos of you blind drunk, these days I would put the blame on the employer if they attach enough signifigance to the image to outweigh any merits you have shown in interviews or tests. I really hope that everyone puts up all sorts of photos of embarassing situations so that businesses won’t be able to choose between the reliable robot and the ‘potential risk’ anymore, since I don’t really believe any human can actually live up to the former 100% of the time. Well, actually, some people could, but they’d be a very small minority.

    I guess I just don’t think people should be ashamed at appearing human, or have to worry about whether or not doing so will affect their employability (or sponsorability). Within limits of course—I just think the current limits seem to be impossibly narrow-minded, especially with the internet getting the way it is with all of the stuff you mentioned in your post.

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