Prepare yourself for the working world

School’s almost over. I hope you had the time of your life! Now it’s time to get a real job. Better start by doing some social media house cleaning.

Here’s a sweet 16 step plan to prepare your online self for the working world:

#1 Google yourself

Do you like what you see? Would you hire you? This is exactly the first thing every recruiter for every job you will ever apply for is going to do. Based on what you see, are you going to even get an interview let alone the job? If not, then it’s time to bury the bad and showcase the good. Start by making a list of everything that needs to go and get rid of it fast. Keep in mind though… Google has a long memory.

#2 Decide what social media stuff is going to stay public

You can’t not be on social media. If you lock down all of your accounts and have no presence whatsoever it’s going to be a big red flag for recruiters. So pick your platform and content wisely. Facebook can still be for fun, with the right privacy settings in place, but maybe it’s time to also consider joining LinkedIn? You know, MySpace for suits? Another option is to get a Twitter account and start talking to you future peers about the things what you want to do for the rest of your life. If your passion is law or architecture, then start tweeting with Lawyers and Architects. The bottom line is that you need to have a presence on social media and you need be the one in control of what gets shared and with whom.

#3 What is your personal brand?

So what is your personal brand? Hint: I’m not talking about beer here and “Bud” is not the right answer. What do you stand for? What is your value proposition for a perspective employer? How are you going to consistently and professionally present yourself across the web? Having a standard professional headshot, a short bio and a long bio are good first steps. Using the same name and user name across all social media platforms is also great, but may be difficult this late in the game if you haven’t already claimed them. It’s not enough to just have a killer resume anymore, you need to market yourself and that requires a good solid personal brand strategy.

#4 Blogging is your new homework

The great thing is that being fresh out of school you may have no real work experience but you are fully trained and conditioned to be a world-class blogger. Writing short, well constructed, topical and fully researched assignments is something you’re very familiar with. Or at least should be. This is a competitive advantage. Use it. For whatever field you want to get into, start a blog about it and get writing. Promote your blog everywhere, especially on your resume. It will not only make you stand out, but instead of a high pressure interview where you may stumble over important questions, a blog gives you a chance to show off your knowledge and expertise with plenty of time to craft your message and delivery. If Google is the new business card, then your blog is the new interview.

#5 Setup a personal site

While you’re setting up that blog, take the time to setup a personal website too. Include everything you would like your perspective employer to know about you. If you’ve won awards, worked on interesting projects, have created some safe for work videos, nailed a homework assignment whatever you can think of that will help differentiate you from the other candidates, get it out there and indexed by Google.

#6 Master your own domain

When you’re building your blog and website, spend the extra $15 and get your own domain name (for example my own personal domain is There are two reasons to do this. First it makes your blog and website easier to find and more professional looking. Second and most important, you can crate a personalized email address associated with your domain. Why? Well, you don’t want to be using sweetbottoms69 at Hotmail or MetalicaRules at Yahoo on your resume. And yet tons of new graduates do just that. Which is awesome… for you. You can learn a lot about a person from the email address they choose to use. So can recruiters. What’s your’s and what does it say about you?

#7 Get LinkedIn

All your friends are on Facebook and all your peeps are on Twitter but all your potential hiring managers are on LinkedIn. Nuff said.

#8 Go through your privacy settings with a fine toothed comb

Open Facebook. MySpace, YouTube and every other social media site you’ve ever been on. Find the privacy section and lock down anything you don’t want out there on the Internet. Here’s a quick tip to ensure you catch everything: open up one browser and log into the site to make the changes. Open a second browser and don’t log in so you can see how your profile and comments appear to the general public. Then get to work cleaning house.

#9 Pictures say a thousand words

And one of those words is “no”. Un-tag, delete and ensure your buddies don’t post graduation party pictures that ruin your chances of landing your dream job.

#10 Cut the drama and watch your language

Your resume is a perfect fit. Your online presence is professional and complete. You blog about interesting topics and clearly demonstrate both the initiative and expertise the hiring manager is looking for… but you swear like a trucker and drone on about your breakup with your ex on Facebook. Not good.

#11 Fire friends if you have too

Some people don’t make the leap from student to professional life well. Others never make it at all. If your pals think it’s funny to post inappropriate things about you or even worst, pictures it may be time to fire them. It doesn’t mean you have to quit your friendship completely, you may just need to firewall it into an off line only relationship until they grow up.

#12 Leverage your network

What most new graduates don’t realize is that their greatest asset from their years at school is not a degree, it’s a network. Yep your drinking buddies are all going to need to get jobs too. And they will. Some of them will get great entry-level jobs at great companies, some will start businesses and some with join professions like Medicine or Accounting. Eventually your friends will move up the ranks of the working world and develop into a solid network of business contacts. So connect with them now and keep in touch not only personally but also professionally. Ever hear that it’s all about “who you know” in business. Well it is.

#13 Get a professional headshot

If you want to look like a professional online then you need a professional headshot. Your grad photo, a vacation pic or a candid shot just won’t cut it. It sounds like a waste of time and money, but a professional headshot taken by a real professional photographer will do wonders to make you stand out.

#14 Spelling and Grammar counts

At school you may have just lost marks for spelling “edukation” wrong. In the working world, you lose real opportunities. One of the top things mployers are looking for is excellent communications skills so take your time, run spell check and proof read everything with your name attached to it.

#15 Set Google alerts for your name

You’re going to need to know about any mention of your name online so that you can respond immediately to a negative mention, post or picture or better yet, capitalize on an opportunity. Google is a great tool for finding stuff and it can also be a great tool to alert you immediately when it does. Run a search on your name and set a Google alert to notify you via email about any new mention that the search engine finds about you online. You’ll be amazed at where your name can pop up and what other folks with the same name are up to around the world.

#16 Worst case scenario: nuke your accounts!

If you’ve tried all of the above and it’s just going to require too much work to clean up your Facebook account then it may be time to take drastic action. As a worst-case scenario, you can always delete your social media accounts and make a fresh start. That still may not erase all of the content from the web or Google, but if it’s that bad… it may be just be your best option.

Got any other tips for new grads? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!

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