The importance of internet identity

U-Wire and U-Wire

Every year there are a handful of buzzwords that infiltrate the higher education lexicon. Some turn out to be short-lived fads while others have long-term viability. One that has cropped up in the past two years is ‘impression management,’ a token phrase universities push on students.

In the past, impression management often involved a few words of wisdom from your parents about dressing nicely for class, respecting your professors, class participation and not ending up in any campus judicial or legal trouble.

Today, the definition has expanded to include your online persona.

I can provide you some guidance and points of consideration for this brave semi-new world. First off, Google yourself. If you have a common name it may be more of a treasure hunt, but you can add your hometown to your search to help narrow things down. After you Google yourself, do the same with Yahoo, as you may get different results. I can say with high certainty that many of us Google people we have dated or are going to date to find out what they’ve done around the net.

Next, check Facebook. More and more employers are using social networking sites for background checks. Employers are looking at character and are trying to steer away from any potential public relations disasters or work-place headaches.

Colleges and universities are increasingly using it. In a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, results from one survey of colleges showed more than one-third of college admissions personnel were checking Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites. Many of you likely checked out your future roommate at Ohio State before you arrived here.

Why should you care what employers think of your Facebook? Last time I checked, the job market is not handing out jobs with your Ohio State University diploma at graduation. Employers are becoming more concerned with their public image and hiring good people who promote the values of the company. A picture of you with a 6-foot bong on your Facebook is unlikely to get you a job in corporate America, except perhaps for High Times magazine. Your blog complaining about your part-time job or your professors actually requiring you to work is a red flag for employers who want to avoid passive-aggressive whiners or slackers.

The Internet is a wonderful connector for people, but it has quite a memory (visit thesmokinggun.com for more than enough evidence). For those of you on the job search, your impression management is important now, not a day after your interview