VOL. 129 | NO. 61 | Friday, March 28, 2014
Cleaning Off the Cobwebs
By Angela Copeland
When new jobseekers start their search for the perfect opportunity, they’re often met with one of two concerns. Either “I’m too old” or “I’m too young.” Those who are older feel their experience will be overlooked because they have too many gray hairs. Those who are young feel their lack of experience will trump their abilities.
Whether you’re young or old, you’re in a similar situation. Ironically, many interveners aren’t great at guessing your age. They use cues and information you provide. You heard that right. They often guess your age based on your own actions. The question then becomes, “What can I do to change this perception?”
One of the easiest places to form an opinion about another person is online. Think back to the last time you found a new doctor, went on a first date or hired a contractor to fix something around your home. Chances are, you may have Googled them to see what would come up.
In the same way you’re doing your homework on your new doctor, your next company is doing their homework on you. While spring cleaning your house this month, consider adding one more item to your to-do list: cleaning up your online brand.
Start out by searching for yourself on Google.com. Search for your name using quotes, then try your name and your city. For example, in my case, I’d search for “‘Angela Copeland’ Memphis.” Look at both the photos and images that show up. Most likely, you’ll find information from Facebook, LinkedIn.com, and Twitter. Fortunately, you can influence this information.
Check Facebook to be sure you’re using a neutral profile photo, and you aren’t sharing inappropriate photos within your profile. If you’re a recent college graduate, there’s a decent chance there are photos on your profile your next employer should not see. At a minimum, select the tightest privacy settings to ensure only your friends see your photos. Ideally, remove and un-tag yourself from undesirable photos. Go through this same process with Twitter and other social media sites you participate in.
Next, take a close look at your LinkedIn profile. If you don’t use LinkedIn, now’s the time to sign up. If you have concerns about appearing older, remove your graduation year from your education. You may also consider removing old positions that are stale and no longer applicable to what you do today. If your concerns are around appearing younger and you’ve completed college, remove anything related to high school.
The last item you should evaluate is your e-mail address. Steer clear of e-mail addresses from internet service providers. If you’ve had your e-mail address since the ’90s, you are probably in this boat. For recent college graduates, stay away from using your school e-mail address. Young or old, you can never go wrong with selecting an e-mail address from Gmail. That is, unless you include your birth year or graduation year as part of the e-mail address. Stay away from e-mail addresses containing numbers that point to your age.
Spring cleaning your online brand is one of the first steps to a successful job search. Following these steps will help to minimize the impact of age in your job search process.
Angela Copeland is CEO/founder of Copeland Coaching, www.CopelandCoaching.com, and author of “Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job.” You can follow Copeland Coaching on Twitter (@CopelandCoach) and Facebook (Facebook.com/CopelandCoaching).