Dirt: Is it Fertile Soil or Disgusting Mud?
Depends on your perspective. As the son of a corn farmer, dirt was big in my house. My Dad used to say, “Good dirt has to keep its moisture and breathe, else nothin’s gonna grow.”
I think Dad might have had a point.
During a job search, “digital dirt” (that online collection of videos, photos, comments, and content created by you and about you) is easily uncovered by prospective employers. Some recommend you try to sweep it under the rug. Don’t let dirt scare you. I suggest you think of it as a living organism and treat dirt like a farmer would.
As a farmer would turn up the earth, spend some time uncovering your digital dirt. Research yourself using different name variations, search engines (Google, Bing, and Yahoo,) and subcategories (video, images, web, etc.). Look closely. Are there unprofessional photos on your LinkedIn profile? Inappropriate tweets? Any videos on YouTube you wouldn’t want Grandma to see?
Clean up what you can. Change your Facebook settings so that employers can’t automatically see how you spent your Saturday night. Delete embarrassing photos or comments. Review your profiles to ensure that the information you’re sharing is similar to what you’d say in a face-to-face interview. Frankly, when a prospective employer or executive recruiter does an online search for you, you’re already being interviewed.
Plant the seed.
When searching for a new job or career step, you want to be found online. You don’t want to be the shadowy figure without personality or distinction. Plant the seed for who you want to be and begin to build your digital profile. If you don’t participate in the big three – Linked In, Facebook and Twitter – start now! Connect with the companies, executive search firms, professional associations, blogs and websites that matter most to your career. Follow the newsmakers and post smart, thoughtful comments where relatable. Social media has revolutionized how we interact and communicate. Join the conversation.
Cultivate your online persona with elements that will help it grow. Update your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles with recommendations and join groups that nourish your soil. Leverage social media by posting books you read and connect with companies within your professional sphere. When you learn about an interesting industry trend, tweet about it. If you read a great article, like it. Fertilization isn’t a single step. It’s a process.
Reap the harvest.
Follow the tried and true measure of the farmer, and your digital dirt will yield a return. Establish and develop an online profile you can be proud of and secure the job interview or receive the call-back.
Roll up your sleeves. It’s time to turn mud into fertile soil.