I would imagine by now most of today’s college students, recent grads, and young professionals are aware of all the do’s and don’ts of managing one’s digital reputation—though there are countless examples of bad judgment that suggest the message is still not getting through. To be sure, privacy is something a lot of today’s teens and twenty-somethings are happy to eschew in some ways, but not so much in others. While a recent Kentico Survey showed a surprising 69% are okay with companies collecting their private data in exchange for better service, another study suggests teens are leaving Facebook to flee from the prying eyes of a non-corporate sort—parents.
This may demonstrate some growing discretion in the tracks we’re willing to leave online, but with all the talk of managing one’s digital reputation, it’s easy to forget the importance of actually having a (positive) digital reputation. Your digital footprint is a permanent and growing part of your resume, and if you can’t build an online profile that shows what you’re able to do for yourself, potential employers may wonder what you can do for them.
I first heard learned of young, aspiring marketer Marian Schembari a couple of years ago when I read a Wall Street Journal piece on the difficulty she experienced as she tried entering the workforce. Nobody wanted to hire her. And why not? She was probably competing against candidates who had more experience. So, she went out and got the experience, placing an ad on Facebook that sold herself to potential employers in the publishing industry. Thanks to a bit of creativity and willingness to put it all out there, she got the job. Oh, and an article in the Wall Street Journal touting her ingenuity.
But Marian didn’t stop there. She runs a great blog, is active on Twitter, and from time to time appears in the press—most recently for releasing with her fiancé a spoof on embarrassing, over the top engagement photos. Altogether, her efforts have resulted in a unique, highly visible brand that will combine with her job experience to continue taking her career to new heights.
Marketing oneself may be tricky for some. I know plenty of professionals who are very good at marketing their businesses and products, but not so good at marketing themselves. It may be a matter of too little time, discomfort in the spotlight, or fear of making a very public mistake—all valid excuses that will continue to get in the way of your career if you let them.
So, grow that Twitter community. Keep on blogging. Devise creative ways to generate news items that show you’ve got what it takes to get noticed. You may not feel like anybody’s watching right away. But the next time you’re out there interviewing, I can guarantee someone will be.