The New York Times (Sunday, Oct. 10) had a very timely article, warning job seekers to protect their online identities. To paraphrase this informative piece, you may have a great resume, outstanding references, and a successful interview, and still not get the offer, whether it’s for a job or an internship. Why? Well, remember that companies often view internships as tests for potential new employees, so establishing yourself as a reputable person who will add value to the company is important. To supplement Dr. Woody’s recent post about online identities, here are our top 5 tips advised in the NYT article to help you protect yourself as you apply for internships:
- Assume that you may be looked up on a search engine, so review the results of a quick search of your own name. If you find anything negative, do some damage control by entering a few positive items about yourself in hopes that the new entries will appear above the negative ones.
- Review your Facebook page. A potential internship supervisor could become a friend of one of your friends and gain access to your page. According to the article, you don’t want anything on Facebook that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see. Be careful about photos, too. Drinking beer at a bachelor party may have been fun, but it could give some companies the wrong impression.
- Understand that having absolutely no mention of yourself on online tends to be viewed with suspicion. If that’s the case, then create a professional identity on the Internet for yourself, utilizing Google profiles, LinkedIn and ZoomInfo to establish a positive presence for yourself.
- Check your credit report for mistakes and develop a plausible explanation if your credit score is poor, which might be the case for many college students. And for government or security positions, you need to have a perfectly clean record in terms of character and behavior. If you’ve had any criminal charges, even if they occurred years ago and have been resolved or proven false, check the internet to make sure you have a clean slate.
- Consider your internship target companies. If you’re looking for a highly competitive, paid internship that could lead to a permanent position with a Fortune 500 company, then you might want to double and even triple check any online data about yourself, including political interests, buying habits, and hobbies. The petition you signed online or political blog on which you commented during an election might alienate a company that supported an opposing candidate.