Social media can be great for job searching, but as a job seeker there’s increasing pressure to continually engage in online activity with a goal to impress potential employers. Have you started to feel like job searching is a PR game and you’re your own personal agent?

A lot of discussion has been focused on the use of social media in regard to job searching. The overall consensus is that social media can really aid your search strategy, and employers want to know candidates are familiar with online tools that have now become commonplace in organizations. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are not only great ways to network but your activity can also help you demonstrate knowledge and passion in and for your chosen industry.

This is all well and good, but it takes a lot of time and effort to keep on top of everything that’s going on. The downside, apart from how consuming it can all be, is that it is highly important to make sure you never over step your online boundaries. Never insult, never post unflattering pictures, and make sure everything said about you is good. Oh ya, and never engage in discussions that might hurt your career. Basically, it’s become highly important to keep your online reputation squeaky clean.

That’s a lot to manage, and a lot of additional pressure placed on job seekers. The concept of managing your online reputation struck me even more when I learned there are companies that specialize in helping job seekers with this entire process. I’ll admit at first I couldn’t believe online reputations were playing such an important role in the job selection process, so much so that there are companies that help seekers avoid potential online reputation disasters. You’ve got something to hide? Bring out the job seeker crisis management team!

Joking aside, it’s become increasingly important to monitor and maintain a positive and healthy online presence. Employers do investigate applicants and are using personal websites, blogs and social media to help inform their hiring decisions. For most job seekers using good common sense will help maintain an impressive online rep. But, just in case, here are some tips to help you stay acquainted with your inner PR manager.

  1. I’ll say it again–stay active on social media. Your activity helps maintain quality search results. Choose tools that allow you to demonstrate your professional knowledge and possibly other interests that reveal positive elements of your experience. Update often so when googled a potential employer sees exactly what you want them to see.
  1. Google yourself! Know what else is out there. Don’t just look at the first page of search results, but also go through second and third pages too. It’s unlikely an employer will look past the first page, but it’s worth knowing if there’s information you’d like to potentially keep buried or lower down the list of results. Then, again stay active on the sites that highlight your attributes to keep these results close to the top.
  1. Avoid being negative: Complaining online, voicing negativity opinions, or getting into arguments is certainly tempting and at times warranted. If you’re going to post a comment that’s less than flattering make sure your point is well delivered and productive. Remember, comments and posts can also be retrieved in search results. You don’t want to be seen as someone who complains for the sake of complaining.

Overall, it is good to remember that online reputation management is really just an extension of how you present yourself in everyday life. Choose your medium and have fun it.