“Who would bother to Google me, anyway? My online image is my prerogative!”
Oops, was that you speaking? If so, it’s time to rethink your perspective. Googling a person’s name is no longer a tactic used only by shy lovers.
Social sharing is a lifestyle norm. As a result, employers are increasingly turning to online media platforms to get a better understanding of candidates' true values. The more powerful the position you apply for, the more detailed your screening process will be. Employers want to know: Can this candidate accurately represent our brand—even when we are not watching?
YOU HAVE A BRAND
Royals, celebrities, and business leaders build aggressive strategies to manage which pieces of their personal lives are accessed by the public. This strategy is called "branding." Many people of influence have studied personal branding. Some brands hire a publicist or a PR team to manage their brand.
The reason for personal branding exceeds a simple desire to be thought of as flawless. Personal image is directly tied to respect. Respect is the foundation on which every powerful person must build. Want power? You’ll first need to cultivate respect.
Everyone has a personal brand. What does your brand say about you? Is your message universal? Do you convey different messages based on your surroundings? Your words, actions, and choices all reflect your personal brand, whether you’re aware of it or not.
YOUR LANGUAGE MATTERS
Employers want their clients to have a professional experience. Unless you’re applying as the 3rd-shift janitor, your behavior in the workplace will directly influence client experiences.
Do you present yourself as well-spoken on the job scene, but use poor grammar in your Twitter posts? Do you throw punctuation out the window? Is your personal blog more aptly called a personal ranting space?
Laziness in online writing is a red flag to employers. Can they really trust you to engage their clients with patience and professionalism?
Additionally, if your screen name, forum discussions, comments, or posts contain profanity, most employers will be twice as likely to drop your name to the bottom of their candidate list. Would the memes you post be appropriate to print and display in the workplace?
Tone, language, and fluency are three factors of speech that people notice within a minute of meeting you. If you want to win a big role in the company of your dreams, make sure your language—both in public and at home—wins the respect of all people.
YOUR SELF-RESPECT MATTERS
Would you expect to see a billboard of the US First Lady posing in a swimsuit? Would someone be allowed to spit on Prince Charles and go unpunished?
Of course, the answer to both questions is "no."
Governmental leaders, whether loved or hated, are treated with a certain level of respect simply because of who they are. Their power and position are understood, and they use that power to hold those around them to a fitting level of conduct. Their private lives are released only in tiny, specifically curated snapshots.
No one can curate life itself to flow perfectly. But you can choose which pieces of your story to share with the world. You can manage what others share about you. You can untag yourself from misleading photographs. You can request for a video to be deleted.
This is called self-respect.
Do you indulge in comment-section debates with strangers? This tells employers, “I do not value my time or my voice.” It raises questions about your diplomacy skills.
Did you post a recent TikTok video of yourself crying over one of life’s setbacks? Everyone navigates painful life seasons. However, sharing drama without offering tangible value to your viewers displays a lack of boundaries. Employers may infer that you lack the ability to navigate stress. They may assume you’ll rely on others to help you complete emotionally draining assignments.
Does your Instagram feed celebrate key education, travel, and family milestones? Is it a collage of bathroom-mirror selfies? What you photograph is what you value! If your feed consists only of selfies, an employer may read you as self-centered. Additionally, if your self-presentation is inappropriate or distasteful, employers may immediately blacklist you.
YOUR RESPECT FOR OTHERS MATTERS
Employers want to know, “How does this candidate handle conflict? How does he or she treat those with opposing views? Is this candidate a learner or a know-it-all?”
What does social media reveal about your respect for others? Do you leave only 1-star Google reviews? Do you complain about opposing political parties? Do you bash those who think differently? Do you reshare lousy news?
Employers are especially interested in how new teammates will handle topics of race, gender, religion, and ethics. Politics are another hot topic. Employers want to know that you see ALL people as people, not as targets for your societal grievances.
The reason for this is simple and quite logical. Your workplace clients will be of every flavor imaginable. If you can’t peacefully co-exist with your Aunt Jeanne’s political view, why should an employer believe that you can graciously serve a client who holds the same standpoint?
YOUR POINT OF VIEW MATTERS
Employers want to know: are you a team player, or do you work the system to empower your own goals? Fortunately or unfortunately, social media is a powerful way for employers to answer this question.
Does your feed celebrate the accomplishments of your friends? Do you have stories to share about interactions with powerful, educated individuals? Do you share your favorite hobbies, creators, and positive influencers? Do you post group photos that flatter everyone—or choose only the ones where you’re at your best?
IT’S A TWO-WAY STREET
Don’t forget, the Google tactic works just as powerfully in your job search as it does for your employer’s background check on you. Do a little research of your own! See what reviews a company has. What are consumers saying about the product? What are the satisfaction ratings of the staff? How long has the company been in business? How long has the current CEO held that role?
The more sacrifices you’re asked to make for a company, the more you, the job seeker, should be sure the company’s values align with yours. Who you choose to work for will influence not only your quality of life but also your reputation!
At the end of the day, you hold the most powerful keys to your own self-respect. Mirror Princess Kate, and work towards cultivating an image of class. Building your self-respect and your respect for others will launch your power, whether you’re seeking a job, or not!