Summer is a great time for college students, especially if they can get a break from taking courses. In many respects it’s a healthy respite; the pressure of exams is off for a little while, and there is valuable work experience to be gained. Whether it’s an internship with a long-term career goal in mind, or a job that will pay a lot of bills for the upcoming school year, the potential for significant accomplishment is there for the taking. To say nothing of the quality time to be spent with family, friends, etc. And an occasional day at the beach never hurt anyone!
It’s also a time to think just a little bit about online reputation. As college students slowly move towards graduation and entering the professional world, even with a healthy economy there are challenges to be met. And a strong online reputation can go a long way towards building a foundation for a successful career path.
Here are five quick things that college students can do this summer to strengthen their online reputations, without extending too much energy on it:
(1) Clean up your social media properties: Everyone should take careful note of the Buffalo Bills/Josh Allen situation that occurred last April. Two days before the National Football League (NFL) draft, it was revealed that Allen, a top Quarterback prospect out of Wyoming University, had used racial language in tweets from his early high school days. Here’s a link to a Sports Illustrated article on this:
In short, Allen admitted to the wrongdoing, pleading ignorance and stupidity. Luckily for him, it did not affect his draft status, as he was taken in the first round by the Buffalo Bills. But it very well could’ve cost him significantly.
Most of you will not have racial epithets on your social media accounts – however, we strongly suggest you go through all of your social properties, and permanently delete any post that you wouldn’t want the boss of your dream company to see. It’s that simple. Because make no mistake about it – recruiters will be looking at your social accounts when considering you for a job!
(2) Create a LinkedIn account if you haven’t already done so. Take advantage of the fact that you are well rested and have some color on your face, and take a great headshot to add to your profile. Add a creative header unit, write a thoughtful summary, and add as much detail as you can to the profile. Proof it carefully for spelling and grammar. Have a parent, relative, or someone you trust review it and provide you with feedback. Then, when you arrive back on campus in the fall, it never hurts to have someone from your career resources center review it for you as well
(3) Secure the URL for your name. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to secure your personal URL, i.e. www.jimsmith.com . If it’s already taken, consider an alternative, like www.jimsmithportfolio.com. If you have the time and ambition, consider creating content for the site after you’ve acquired the URL. For some of you it might actually be a fun project! Again, it’s important to be cognizant of what you include on the pages. Always remember that people will be looking at this – keep it smart, safe, and professional.
(4) Set up a Google alert for your name. It’s a simple task that will take you no more than a minute, and it will keep you in the loop for any instance where your name appears in an online listing. To create an alert, simply go to Google, type your name in the search box and click news. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and you will see a button that says Create alert. Bang, you’re done! More than likely you’re not going to receive an alert that sets off alarm bells, says something negative about you. But if that situation does arise during the course of a year, you’re in a position to deal with it.
(5) Understand the competitive battleground for your name. Do you have a name that’s fairly common, and shared by many others, or is it somewhat unique? Do the people that share your name have solid online reputations, or do negative listings come up? Now is definitely the time to understand the real estate surrounding your name in the online realm. If you’re in a particularly competitive environment, the reality is you’re going to have to devote more time to developing “real estate,” or positive online listings that rank above others that share your name, and put your personal brand in a positive light. Note that this doesn’t need to be handled now, but gradually, over time, it will be important to build an online reputation that wins the day for your brand.
Enjoy the rest of your summer, and if we can answer any further questions about online reputation management, please don’t hesitate to ask!