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Job Seeker Strategies: Proactively managing social media presence & online reputation

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Have you performed a Google search of your name recently? If not, try it now. Simply type your first and last name in the Google search bar and watch the results filter in. Need to be more specific? Include the city and state that you live in after your name. What did you find?

A growing number of employers are using social networks to make hiring decisions. According to a survey released by Jobvite.com, 92% of employers are using or planning to use social networks in their hiring decisions this year. Employers are using sites such as Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to get a more detailed picture of a candidate--one that goes beyond their resume. It is imperative that job seekers create and maintain a professional online presence that will impress employers when they Google an applicant's name. Below are five strategies job seekers can use to manage their social media presence and online reputation.

1. Leverage professional networking sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and blogs.
Utilizing these social media sites allows one to build a professional online presence and showcase experience, skills, knowledge and expertise in a specific field. Job seekers should be strategic with the social media platforms they use, choosing the ones that showcase their unique skills and experience. For example, Pinterest is a great tool for job seekers who would like to showcase their skills and knowledge in a creative way. This is especially true for teachers because they can create boards related to education and pin photos related to lesson plans, activities, classroom organization, quotes, and books.

2. Set all personal social networking profiles to private.
It is human nature to want to connect and share; social networking sites are also a wonderful tool to stay in touch with family and friends. However, job seekers should set all social networking profiles used for personal reasons to private. Our goal in the job search is to highlight the qualifications and skills we have related to the field and avoid having personal matters influence an employer's decision in the hiring process.

3. Only post information that you would not mind addressing in an interview.
This rule of thumb can be applied to both professional and personal social networking sites. Everything written on the internet is done in pen, not pencil. Think carefully before posting and never post when you are emotionally charged. Educators are public figures with a responsibility to model professional behavior.

4. Make sure all materials are free of grammatical and spelling errors.
Just as you would make certain your paper application materials are free of grammatical and spelling mistakes, you need to do the same for all of your social networking sites. Spelling and grammar mistakes signify poor communication skills to an employer and could result in a highly qualified candidate being rejected. On the other hand, materials that are free of errors show strong communication skills and attention to detail.

5. Be positive!
Job seekers should include an abundance of positive attributes and characteristics in their profiles such as leadership, membership and affiliations, community activities, interests and hobbies. Also, job seekers should be positive when communicating in a post or message. Finally, supporting and recommending other people's work, sharing helpful information and contributing to discussions are other ways a job seeker can show they are authentic, polite and positive.

What impression would your online reputation make on an employer? Often times an employer's first impression of a candidate is based on the results of a Google search of that individual. Our social media presence and online reputation affect our candidacy for positions. If you are not pleased with the results a Google search yields when you type in your name, consider incorporating the five strategies outlined above in your job search.

Shannon Wells
Career Counselor and Experiential Learning Coordinator
California State University, Sacramento, CA

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