Your Online Brand
Although online resources such as LinkedIn can create great opportunities for networking and job-hunting, you should keep in mind the other ways that social media can impact your job search. Each social media site that you use can come up in a search of your name on the Internet, and each one is an element of your online brand.
Keeping track of all the elements of one’s online brand is a challenge. Human resources, management, future employers and even coworkers routinely peruse LinkedIn, Twitter, the blogosphere and Facebook. You will be Googled. But that doesn’t imply that you can’t control the messaging. Ensure that your personal brand is interesting, positive and conveys exactly how you’d like to be represented. For many cancer survivors, there is the added challenge of wanting to turn to online communities for support, but keep in mind that you may not want to be attached to your cancer diagnosis forever.
If you decide to share your story online, know that anything you put on the Internet becomes public and you may be disclosing your cancer to current or future employers. This section comprises information that will help you shape and manage your online image and reputation.
Google yourself with the critical eye of a boss or potential boss. You might also check other sites, such as www.spokeo.com, which includes information on marital status, education, political views and religion. Does a future boss really need to know all that? (You can delete information about yourself from Spokeo.)
Remember that once you put information “out there,’’ it stays out there. By checking to see what exists, you will at least be aware of what your current or future boss can find out, and you can be prepared for potential related questions.
Quiz Yourself Before Posting
Before you post information, opinions or photos, especially to a social site, ask yourself:
- Would I want a boss (current or future) or coworkers to know this?
- Would I want this on the front page of a newspaper or the home page of my favorite news site?
- Would I want my grandmother or mother to see this?
Even if you have already been very open about your diagnosis and don’t care who knows it, at work or outside, you may still want to ask yourself these questions about other topics and about the nature and tone of your medical disclosures. And if you are hoping to keep a low profile about your cancer, you have to think even more seriously about what you post.
Another consideration: Should you talk online about volunteer work or other affiliations with cancer organizations or keep it quiet? If you decide to talk about it, you have to decide whether you want to identify as a volunteer only or as a volunteer and a survivor. You may have to choose between inspiring and encouraging others and preserving your privacy. Only you can decide if the trade-off is worth it.
How Public Is Your Blog?
Many patients and survivors blog about treatment, recovery and other cancer-related experiences. You should think about whether you want to blog anonymously, use a pseudonym or use your actual name. “Going public” might make it easier to build an audience, but if that’s uncomfortable or you are not planning to disclose your diagnosis in professional circles, consider going the anonymous route or choosing a fake name, and get IT help setting up your blog, to minimize the chances of being unmasked.
Seek Support Under the Radar
If you feel a need to share information about your treatment or recovery, but want to keep a lower profile, consider websites intended for disclosing health information, many of which are free.
One, www.caringbridge.org is meant for anyone with a significant health challenge. Messages you post will be seen only by those with access to your page. You can also use it to update family and friends easily, saving yourself multiple emails or calls. Another, www.mylifeline.org, offers cancer patients, survivors and caregivers the opportunity to create personal websites. Even with these options, you’ll want to review the fine print and choose a privacy setting that meets your needs, as each one has different levels of security. These sites also give you the option of linking to social media platforms like Facebook. Think very carefully about whether you want the news you are sharing with your select family and friends to be posted on public social media websites. Download our Maintaining Online Privacy guide for help with setting up a secure profile.
Pay attention to privacy settings on social media such as Facebook; these allow you to control who sees what. Remember, however, that privacy-setting options change frequently, so the best course of action is to make sure you aren’t posting things you don’t want seen. And test your privacy settings occasionally.
To keep your social media page focused on your personal life, you can decline requests from colleagues. A simple reply such as “Thanks for the invitation; I am keeping all my professional contacts on LinkedIn,”is sufficient.
On Twitter, you can sign up for an account for public tweets or protected tweets. If you choose the protected option, only your approved followers can view your tweets, and they can’t retweet.
If you are job-hunting, consider the time of day you tweet and network online and when you use the chat function on sites like Facebook. You will look most professional if you do it before or after traditional work hours or during lunchtime. Otherwise, it may appear as though you post and tweet the day away.