Does Your Online Presence Paint You Into a Corner?

Professionals should make sure that their online presence doesn’t reflect poorly on them. This is sommon sense and few people are unaware of these type of consequences. However, the way you present yourself to the world using social media can harbor a more subtle problem, one which can still torpedo your chances of getting that interview, or landing that job.

These days, if you’re applying for a new software position, you have to assume that the hiring manager is going to look at your LinkedIn profile, see if you have a Twitter account, maybe check out if you have repo’s on GitHub, or if you participate in Quora or StackOverflow. Reading what you’ve posted on any of these sites can give a great deal of insight into your personality, your interests, your work style, and so on. If you’re not careful, you may be inadvertently sending out the wrong message.

Be particularly careful of an overly idealistic job objective stated on LinkedIn. I recently worked with a candidate, who I’ll call “Dave”, who was very interested in developing software for robotics. Dave didn’t have a great deal of experience in robotics software except for some college projects, but his LinkedIn profile was somewhat over the top in terms of his enthusiasm to work in the robotics field. Now, this was Dave’s dream career, and he was very realistic that it would be a stretch to make this happen. In speaking with Dave, I found that he was very open-minded to working in other types of software development but this was not reflected in his LinkedIn profile. Dave’s story ends on a positive note because I placed him in a great (non-robotics) position. One of the managers who was interested in Dave’s background liked his resume, but then checked out his LinkedIn page and felt that if he hired Dave, there would be a high risk of Dave quitting as soon as he found a robotics job (which was not the case).

The lesson here is maybe you are so passionate about one specific type of opportunity and really won’t consider anything else, but my experience has taught me that most people are like Dave: even though they have an ideal type of job, they would definitely be open-minded to consider other types of roles under the right circumstances. If this is the case with you, then you should find a way to talk about your objectives in a way that won’t turn off those hiring managers who don’t have the ideal position to offer. You can still be true to your interests and passions, while keeping the door open for other good career opportunities.

Everything that you put out there into cyberspace becomes a permanent element in how you may be perceived by others. Make sure that you’re putting out the message you intend to.