In today’s social media landscape, how hard should you work to create a squeaky-clean Online Persona? Job recruiting experts consistently urge their readers to manage their online identities because, according to a survey done by Reppler in 2011, over 90% of recruiting managers visit potential candidates’ social media presence before hiring and, more alarmingly, 69% of recruiters say they’ve passed on potential job candidates based on a negative social media presence. (Reppler, by the way, is a social media monitoring website that allows its users to see how they are perceived across networks. Their survey handily demonstrates the need for their service.)
But job hunters are not the only ones concerned about online identity. Alexander Taub, of Forbes.com, stresses that everyone should pay attention to, and carefully manage, their online identities. He advocates that “having a solid digital identity is more important now than ever. The first thing anyone will do when they hear your name is Google search you. Would you like to rely entirely upon an algorithm? I didn’t think so.” His “5 Key Things Needed to Improve Your Digital Identity” include creating a legitimate sounding twitter handle, working on your blog, acquiring a domain name, and creating an About Me page. The crux here is creating a “personal brand” that’s consistent across social media platforms and highly google-able. “By having a consistent, visible digital identity, I’m putting myself in a position for good things to happen. I recommend you do so as well.”
But what good things or bad things might happen because of a social media persona (aside from a potential employer not hiring you over that party shot from last weekend)? Well, according to a different Forbes.com staff writer, Kashmir Hill, folks NOT on facebook may be considered “suspicious” according to reporting at Slate and Slashdot. (It should be noted that Hill is reporting a trend, not necessarily agreeing with it.) But her examples include a woman’s two-timing lover suspiciously forgoing a Facebook account (she should have seen it coming!), and Facebook-less mass murderers Anders Breivik and James Holmes, whose motivations perhaps should have been obvious from the outset. Yes, you understood correctly: folks without Facebook could be cheaters or murderers (or both?).
And yet Facebook and Google are both famously investing in openness and online transparency in their user’s accounts, perhaps to make it easier to ferret out bad dates, murderers, and unhireable employees from afar… or perhaps it’s just better for (their) business.
So: how much time should YOU spend managing your online identity? It’s a little unclear. Personally, I would advocate spending that time working on your actual self, rather than your virtual self, and cross your fingers that this actual self translates well online. I publicly blog here, for instance, and I haven’t lost any dates over it (so far).
I leave you with this Haiku for the Modern Internet Persona by Stephanie Georgopulos:
You look nothing like
your profile pictures do.
Tell me how you sleep?