Photo by Tyler Meuter

In this day of modern technologies, many people do not think twice about how they portray themselves online. Why should it matter what my email address is or what I post on social media? No one looks at that but my friends, and they do not care. I believe that how you portray yourself online plays a huge role in real life and speaks volumes about who you are as a person.

What is one of the very first things that you provide to a recruiter or a company when applying for a job, other than your name? Your email. In 2013, over 100 billion emails were exchanged by businesses each day (Radicati Group). Imagine the first impression a potential client (or employer) has when they see [email protected] or [email protected] I would not want to hire or do business with someone with such an email address because it is hard to remember and does not inspire confidence in his/her authenticity. I usually only see such email addresses in my spam folder. The latter of the two addresses, besides having drug and alcohol references in the name, is an AOL address. That screams that this person is stuck in the technological dark ages. On the flip side, if I saw something  such as [email protected] or [email protected], I’d be much more receptive. With the proliferation of free email services on the internet today, there is no excuse to use an unprofessional address for professional communication. For the overacheivers, many providers allow for setting up custom domains (such as janedoe.com) with free email addresses after purchasing the domain name.

Another aspect of your online identity is social network activity. Many businesses are now performing “social media background checks” where third-party companies search your social media profiles for potential red-flags. Analysis of profile pictures, post content, likes/follows and more are all combined into reports presented to the employers. You may think that one post will not matter, whether it was about how much you enjoyed that crazy party last night or about how much you hate a certain group of people. I strongly believe that any one post could be your downfall and the very reason why you did not get the interview you were hoping for. Sure, what companies see on Twitter or other social media sites may not be what they get, but if the 120 characters that you post are any indication, they may just be right.

We all love to share how we feel with our friends and relatives, or maybe we need to blow off some steam after a hard shift at work. Social media is a great tool for that, but I strongly believe that maintaining a professional image (online and otherwise) is of utmost importance, even when not job hunting. Whether it is using a professional email address or not posting those crazy party pictures, I believe taking necessary steps to protect your reputation will pay off in the long run.