By Catherine PalmiereYes, there’s a whole new world out there. For all of you who are under twenty-five, it’s as familiar as any other world. You skype, you tweet, you text and you post to the wall – in brief, you are, without a doubt, as comfortable online as you are offline. So what’s the problem? Well, quite simply, the problem IS that comfort. Being comfortable enough to bare your soul (and anything else) online is dangerous – and to a job search (either now OR LATER in your life), it can be deadly. Because make no mistake, the corporate culture is learning the lingo and building an online presence too. Yes, they’re a few years behind, but they’re catching up quickly. This article will a) guide you to stop right where you are and take an honest online assessment and clean up your act, and b) provide a few tips on how to USE online portals to feature your best assets and GET that job.

Part One – Clean up Your Act:  Okay, it’s pretty obvious that if you’re looking for a job you’ll want to take down those pictures of spring break from six years ago (in fact, taking down your MySpace page entirely is the safest bet). Make absolutely sure that you not only remove that type of material from YOUR Facebook page (and anywhere else), but from your friends as well. The simplest way to do this is to remove any tags with your name on them. (You do this by opening a picture and clicking “remove tag” near your name.) Also, send a message to ALL of your friends and family that you’re job searching and to PLEASE not post anything that could work against you.
Quite frankly, photos are the easy stuff – something we all recognize as potentially “dangerous” – but words are no joke either. I’m not talking about cussing out pals on Facebook – obviously you’ll know to take that down (and refrain from this point forward). I’m talking about those moments you’re in a Yahoo Group or on a Linkedin Q&A where you strongly share your opinion on anything from employee relations to someone’s religious beliefs about indigenous cultures who eat only bananas. The point is this – you need to look at EVERYTHING that has your name on it and DELETE, DELETE, DELETE.  How do you find this material? You do EXACTLY what a potential employer is going to do. You Google your name and open every single link. If you’re active online, you will quickly discover that you CAN’T delete everything that’s already out there. Which leads us to …

Part Two – Putting Your Best Foot Forward (and Getting it OUT of Your Mouth):  Yes, the web has a far-reaching memory, and some of it seems to have a life of its own.  When you have material that you can’t disconnect from you, consider flooding the web with NEW material. (*This is a good tip for ANYONE, by the way.) Feature your personal expertise in as many places and situations as you can think of. Go onto Linkedin and answer questions with your experiences and best advice. Join Facebook Groups and post positive opinions on discussions that will feature how amazing you are. (These can even be hobbies or personal issues – such as parenting or fishing.) The point is to create an online personality that is current and speaks well of you. This exercise will push that old and potentially deadly time bomb WAY down on the search engine’s list.

Another good idea? Put up some new pictures. Hire a photographer to take great, new headshots, have them follow you around for a few hours and take candid, attractive photos. Maybe it’s you reading a book in Central Park – or playing with your kids – or the dog…. You get the picture.

Email:  Finally, I just want to remind ALL of you that email IS online. It is alive, and it can absolutely come back to bite your in the ***. Keep your emails not only clean and appropriate, but FORMAL. Use a salutation (that’s the Dear Catherine line). Use a formal closing sentence. Always give your complete contact info. You never know who knows whom and when something can resurface, so putting your BEST foot forward is what we ALL have to practice every day of our online lives.

Catherine Palmiere, CEIC, CPBA, CPCC, CPC, CTS, CSS, President of Palmiere Career Services Contact her at: