In China, both local and international companies use a virtual private network, or VPN, to access blocked websites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to look up your cyberspace presence. Don’t think for a second your online version created at home won’t be reviewed if you’re looking for an internship in China or work inside the Middle Kingdom – it definitely will be.
Here are five things you must do before applying for a job.
1. Update Your LinkedIn Profile
If you haven’t revised your LinkedIn profile since your last job, it’s time to make some updates. Rewrite your summary to include your current career objective, and ask colleagues to endorse you and provide recommendations that reflect your job search. Make sure your online resume includes all your newest accomplishments. If you don’t have a professional picture to add to your profile, it’s time to have one taken.
2. Update Your Social Media Profiles
It’s easy to forget to keep your social media profiles updated, especially when you have multiple accounts. Log on to each of your social media services and make sure your profile photo is current and flattering and your profile blurb is accurate. See if you can make your profiles subtly reflect your professional skills without reading like a job application; “I see your copy errors” is a good line for a Facebook profile, while “I have six years of copy editing experience and am looking for work” is too much.
While you’re at it, untag those unflattering or unwanted pics, and delete any posts or tweets that don’t reflect well on you or your candidacy.
3. Google Yourself
You know your potential employer is going to Google you, so go ahead and Google yourself first. While Google isn’t blocked, it operates poorly, so companies use a VPN for smoother use.
Ideally, your top results are reflections of your work and personality: they should include any articles or print media about your work at previous organizations as well as links to your LinkedIn, Facebook, and other accounts. If you have a professional blog, it should be within the first five links as well and clearly identifiable as your work.
If your Google search turns up negative results, consider a service like Reputation Changer. This service removes negative references and past mistakes on the Internet, leaving your online presence more reflective of your current skills and abilities.
4. Make Sure Your Personal Life Is Out Of The Focus
Many people have personal blogs, Instagrams, or Tumblrs. It’s a good idea to use avatars for personal sites in order to keep your name associated with your professional work and your personal life out of the focus.
However, if you do use an avatar or online handle, make sure to disassociate it with anything you don’t want potential employers to see. You’d be surprised how many people use their Twitter handle as their OKCupid name, for example; and even if your interviewer doesn’t search far enough to make the connection, your new colleagues certainly will. Choose anonymous, unrelated handles for dating sites, diet sites, and anything else you don’t want your employer to see.
5. Write A Well-Placed Blog About Your Industry
Believe it or not, it’s relatively easy to get published on an online magazine’s blog section. Write a post about a discovery you made while working or your thoughts on industry trends, then submit it to Open Salon or the Huffington Post. If you know your industry reads certain blogs or online publications, submit to them as well. Remember to stay positive and write well of your industry; this isn’t just an opportunity to share your opinions, it’s an audition for future work.