What Does Your Online Resume Say About You?

9 Feb

What Does Your Online Resume Say About You?


Kelly McCausey

Anyone on the hunt for a new job has devoted time and attention to freshening up their resume, right? Do you realize there is another resume being updated pretty much every day by those who have a busy online life? I’m talking about our virtual footprint — the traceable trail of our comings and goings on the Internet.

Every post on a forum, every comment on a blog, every photo on Flickr, every post on our personal websites, every tweet on Twitter and every other social network we participate on — they become part of a permanent record.

Blogs and websites that have long been deleted from the web can still be accessed via the massive cache of web history anyone can browse at Archive.org. Even emails and instant messages we expect to be kept private can end up being aired in public in wrong circumstances.

Think about how things have changed. The chances that anyone I meet today has any clue of who I was and how I behaved in high school is very slim. But today’s graduates have been living life out loud and in print and on video via social networks since they were early tweens. When I read MySpace profiles of some of my son’s friends, I have to wonder what a potential employer will think of their web history of social antics, drunken videos and admissions of drug use.

Even those who should be old enough to know better are indiscreet on the web. I’ve seen everything from a record of the number of times they were late for work to discussions about office romances gone bad. What entertains online friends won’t impress the human resources manager handling your next interview.

As an entrepreneur, I don’t worry much about getting hired anytime in the future but that doesn’t mean I can forget about the importance of managing my online reputation. Who knows what could influence future partnerships? I would hate to see a past virtual gaffe ruin my chances for an advantageous association.

Think about all the things you talk about every day online. Have you complained about your boss? Gossiped about a co-worker? Have you admitted to cheating on an exam or padding an invoice? I see all of these discussions on a regular basis.

I’ll admit that I’ve made several business decisions based on my observances of social networking behavior. I don’t recommend a business coach that regularly asks questions any respectable business coach should already know the answer to, and I don’t hire a virtual service provider who bad mouths existing clients and complains about being overworked.

You certainly wouldn’t partner with someone who brags about expensive vacations in one breath and admits to being on the verge of bankruptcy in the next. These personal utterances reveal a lack of financial stability and certainly don’t inspire trust.

As we embrace a virtual lifestyle, it becomes difficult to separate the professional world from our personal life, and that is something we all need to be mindful of. Everything we do online can be reviewed and judged. You may not care what others think of you now but that can change a decade or two from now.

Do your future self a favor and think twice before you type.

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