Hello New & Returning Readers,
About 2 years ago I wrote an in-depth post about how I job hunt. I had always meant to expound on that post about how the internet, social media, and networking online play a very big role for how I conduct my search and also improve my chances of protecting myself. So I figured, now would be a good time for part 2. Here are my 10 tips on setting yourself up for a great job search, whether for the very first time or not. AKA – Kiyomi’s 10 Tips for Setting Up Your Social Media & Internet Presence Safely to Improve Your Job Search & to Protect Yourself
They say that the interview starts even before you’ve walked through the door and it’s true. Except in this day and age, it also starts even before they’ve contacted you for that interview to walk through their door. Your online presence is probably everywhere and can be hurting you without you knowing it. Whether fair or not, people make decisions based on emotions sometimes and exercise their personal preferences. Here are some tips to think about. I will admit they are not conventional, at all.
1. Have more than one phone number and email address - Besides your personal cell number from your iPhone, get another free number just for job hunting or work. Google voice, Sideline, and other companies offer local phone numbers for free. They all connect to your cell phone, have texting capabilities, have apps, and offer voicemail with transcribed messages. It’s also a good idea to have different emails for different purposes. One for online shopping, one for job hunting/business, one for personal friends and family. Through Gmail you can funnel all of them to one gmail address so you only have to sign into one account, yet you can reply back from the specific account that someone wrote to you at as well. This way all of your accounts are separate. This is key (more on that later).
2. List your resume on career job sites - Okay, a lot of people will tell you it’s not worth it to post your resume on sites like Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed, etc. The dangers are a lot of spam or recruiters in a different country or state reaching out to you with ill intent, etc. As long as you are smart and don’t give out your social security number via email through them, I think you’ll be fine. The reason why I believe in doing this is because I once got found by Facebook through one of those sites. Yes, Facebook! This was 2011 and I got really lucky. The LA office was tiny. They had asked an outside company to look for an assistant. This outside company did NOT specialize in hiring EAs nor admin at all. However, Facebook was so over-extended that they couldn’t do it themselves. That company looked online and found me. I could NOT believe it either. I got an actual interview out of it too. I was not the right fit. They wanted to promote someone to a sales role eventually which I had no interest in. So while that may never happen again, I still post my resume online with a stripped down version because you never know.
3. How to strip down your resume - An online stripped resume is used to post at sites like Monster or CareerBuilder that have resume databases for when any recruiters want to see who’s looking for a job. These are generally pretty public for recruiters who have paying memberships. (And they are slightly different than sites where you can save/hold your resume online, but only you can decide which specific company sees your resume when you 1-click apply to a specific job posting. I’m not referring to those sites. You can use your real full resume for those since it will be hidden until you give permission to share to each company.) Thus, my online resume that anyone can see at anytime, does not list my supervisor/boss’ name at any of my jobs. My private cell is not listed, since I have the free job hunt cell number from Google Voice. I do not put my full address on it, just my city and state. You can also use your job hunt email or an even more modified version of your email address if you use Gmail. Search Gmail hacks for using the + symbol to have your email inbox sort various accounts by what you use in conjunction with the + sign (Monster, CareerBuilder, etc). Or you can use them as a “disappearing” email address for newsletter sign ups and to track who actually sold or shared your email address.
4. Do not use your real name on social media sites - I know MANY people may disagree with me or raise their eyebrows at this. Just hear me out. When I say social media sites, I mean sites you use purely for personal posting and for socialising. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, Pinterest, dating apps, or Twitter, as an executive assistant or admin assistant there really isn’t a reason why your personal postings should be under your real name. If your job is in social media, that’s another story. However, you do not need to be found with your full name or your job hunting email address/cell for any reason if you want to post about what you did that weekend or what you ate or bought etc. As a testament to this, recruiting agencies or HR folks WILL Google you and WILL look you up on social media sites. While it’s not fair that what they find may be used against you, they most likely will. The more personal information you have online, the more they can use it against you. Agencies will tell you to scrub your profile clean and will warn you their clients will also look you up.
5. The ONLY time to use your real name is with LinkedIn and maybe Twitter - LinkedIn is a “social” media site for professionals which is why it’s the only one you should DEFINITELY list your real name. Also list a photo (optional) and your job hunting email address, not the one work gave you. With Twitter, depending on how you use it, you can use your real name. If you are only using it to re-tweet and tweet business related content, by all means, go for it. However, even then, there’s a news story online almost every week in which someone tweeted something and then got fired for it even if what they commented on was or was not related to work. The problem lies in whatever they said, did, or endorsed was so terrible that people started to Google them and found out where they worked, it goes viral, the company they work for gets brought into the drama and things get worse from there. I’m not saying you can’t have an online presence, I’m saying you should have separate accounts - lots of them. But also, be a good person and learn from your mistakes.
6. Separate accounts should truly be separate - Any names and photos you use for your NON WORK accounts should be nicknames, fake names, partial names, or photos where your face is not shown. Use your pets’ photos, your favorite cartoon character, etc. And make sure that you do NOT use the same photo or screen name across different social media sites. Once they figure out who you are, if they go to another site they just have to look for the same name/phone/etc and they’ve found you everywhere. So the key is to have a completely different fake name and fake photo for EACH account and that YOU add new people that are personal friends because new friends won’t be able to find you. I’ve read articles online where people who use dating apps tend to use the best photo of themselves also for LinkedIn, Twitter, etc so even if your last name isn’t shown on one site/app, you can be found easily through other ones.
7. Have multiple accounts for social media - I sometimes have more than 1 account for social networks. It’s wise to have a couple of accounts for EACH social media site if you will truly use it for work stuff. My name listed there does not have my full name regardless of if I’m using it for professional or personal use. I only use my full name at LinkedIn and Twitter. I am a part of 2 professional networking groups that are invite only. They are professional groups on social media sites so a lot of people go there for advice, to vent, get feedback, or network with peers. Almost any industry is small with about only 2 degrees of separation. The point is, you don’t want random HR recruiters being able to find you online anytime you apply for a job. Not that you have anything to hide, but do they really need to see a photo of you with a drink in each hand? Or maybe wedding photos where they might think you spent too much money or perhaps not enough, even though it’s none of their business. Or maybe they are a dog friendly office and see you are a cat person so they’d rather hire someone who also owns a dog. Petty, yes. Believable, also yes.
8. Anything you write, online, in emails, in texts, anywhere, whether personal or business, assume it can be found and published at some point - With so much going on with hacking and lack of privacy online, assume that anything you write could potentially be seen by the entire world even if it’s 10 years from now, whether you are famous or not. When Sony got hacked all those work emails got published and then archived forever to be searched by anyone for eternity. Headlines mentioned a lot of personal things came to light. You can never be too careful. I just never understood why people used their work email address for personal use if the subject was strictly personal. I realize a lot of these measures are very restrictive and you certainly have to pick your battles because you can’t live in a box or in fear your entire life. I admit, it’s hard to know where to draw the line.
9. At least twice a year, check your online presence - It’s always a good idea to Google yourself online and see what pops up. Don’t forget to Google various name combinations, spellings, or your maiden name, etc. You’ll want to see what links come up first, what pictures show up for you, or if other people have the same name for you that might affect you. A couple of weeks ago, on Facebook, there was a post getting passed around about where you live, your family members, age, and contact information were visible at Family Tree Now so you should opt out. I went to look and sure enough my information was there. It’s probably a good idea to check a couple more sites that post public information for free online to see if you can opt out. Also make sure your privacy settings are set so that people can NOT search for you in the public directory of any social media site. This also means do not have your profile available to the public/Google search indexes, or without someone signing in and creating their own account. Also delete old accounts, like MySpace. If you find not nice things on the internet, figure out how to remove it or make it go further down on search results. One of the ways to make it go away or not show up so high on Google is to create other pages for yourself so those rank higher. You can create free pages at Strikingly, About.me, or other similar sites. Showcase yourself as a professional, but also humanize your profile by giving a glimpse of who you are as a person with what your fave business book is, or your hobbies, or where you volunteer, etc. Again, HR folks should not be able to look for you at all with your job hunting email address, personal or job hunting cell number, real name, or a real photo via using Google’s reverse image search. And if it’s really bad or really urgent...
10. Hire a company to help you - A journalist friend of mine that wrote for a MAJOR front page web portal once was a random victim of repeated attacks on all their articles. Someone who was bored had created an ENTIRE page/website to this person just to point out all of their mistakes. Their colleague was very good with computers so they were able to figure out it was a complete stranger doing it and not anyone they knew at all, just an internet troll. Unfortunately, by googling their name alone, this site comes up on the first page. It’s towards the bottom, but it’s not a great first impression to make. Companies like Reputation Management work with individuals as well as celebrities and companies in various different ways to help you manage your online identity.
Now that you are harder to be found via your personal info and personal social media sites, create your own luck. The goal in any job hunt is to find the hidden market, help others, grow and keep in touch with your network, and use the internet as a gateway to lead to a phone call, informational meeting, job interview, or fostering an in-person relationship. Always send a cold email or take a chance. Never be afraid to hear no as long as you asked nicely, are humble, and give them plenty of room to say no. A future post will go over more tips on how I create my own luck.
***New “rule” - when you ask me a question for anonymous advice and I answer it, could you write an anonymous comment so I know you're the one who ASKED and read the post? :)
As always, I usually tweet any new posts I have. And anyone can email me questions and I respond only via this blog, not to your personal address.
I also write over at Jobstr.com under Hollywood Executive Assistant.