Managing your online identity

Managing your online identity can be critical to your education and career. There are many websites that can influence your online identity and taking control of this part of your life can be an important step to building a desirable public profile. The first step to shaping your online identity is to search for your name online. Take note of what comes up first and read through the first few pages that are generated by your search.

Social networking sites can be a great opportunity to shape your public profile. LinkedIn is considered to be the most professional of all social networking websites and allows you to post a comprehensive resume online. Keeping your resume up to date can be important in building your professional online identity. LinkedIn allows you to identify your location, career field, and current company. You can also document your education, skills, and past work experience. As you link to other peoples’ profiles on LinkedIn, you will have the opportunity to ask colleagues and friends for recommendations. These recommendations will appear on your profile and can be accessed easily by potential graduate schools and employers.

Social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace can play an important role in your public profile. It is important to get familiar with your privacy settings and know what information is available to various groups of people. You will also want to closely monitor what other people post on your profile, including comments, photos, or videos. Regularly check and delete anything that you do not want included in your public profile. Photos that are public should always be professional and send a positive message to potential employers. Your Twitter account can also affect your online identity. It is important to monitor your privacy settings and control who has access to your information. Be careful about who you allow to access your profile on all of these websites, particularly when it comes to colleagues, supervisors, or professors.

If you want to fully control your online presence and your domain name is available, you may consider purchasing it for a small annual cost. You can redirect the website to an online profile or use it to create a professional online presence. This prevents the name from being used by someone else and will often appear early in search results. You will also want to check to see if any blogs, past or current, can be located by searching your name online. These should either be strictly professional in nature, deleted, or kept protected by privacy settings.

The influx of information from social networking websites can be used to your benefit during a job search or application process. LinkedIn may allow you to view friends or friends who work in your field and may provide important contacts in the future. Facebook or Twitter can be used to ask friends for job leads. By using social networking to your advantage and carefully monitoring your public image, you can take control of your online identity.


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