How to successfully blend your online and offline personas

Sharon Florentine

That's a rhetorical question -- you can't, Coleman adds. But what you can do is make sure your online presence reflects the most professional, accurate and up-to-date version of you.

Many organizations are taking cultural fit into consideration when hiring candidates, and that can work in your favor, especially as the virtual and real, the personal and professional worlds blend together, Coleman states. "Everyone today has two lives -- the virtual and the in-person -- and they're colliding. You have to think about how both are going to affect your job search, and don't let your pride get in the way. Sure, you can say, 'I am who I am,' but how much of that will be seen as, 'What I am is a great employee? '" he says.

Changing your profile picture, first and foremost, can help polish your image, says Hanold. Try and tailor your choice to reflect the kind of career and culture you aspire to join, whether that's as a C-level executive or a freewheeling software developer. Or, you can take a neutral-looking selfie or get a professional headshot taken, he notes.

And while you want to make sure there's nothing inappropriate showing up publicly on your social media profiles, don't delete them altogether or make them completely bland and innocuous -- they're a valuable way for potential employers to get to know you before they meet you in person.

"For me, Facebook and Twitter, even LinkedIn can be supplemental to a candidate's professional history and their resume. I love to see people's interests, their influencers, which companies and causes they follow and support. I want to make sure that a candidate's likes, dislikes, values and mission are matching up with the employer's specific culture," Hanold says.

Most hiring managers and recruiters aren't going to spend a significant amount of time digging around to find dirt on you, Coleman adds, but make sure the most recent posts and activity aren't raising any red flags.

"If we do a quick search on your Twitter handle and we see you're trading barbs back and forth, escalating arguments with other users, starting flame wars -- we're going to assume that you don't tend to acknowledge others' points of view without attacking. That's not a good thing. If you were a 'maybe' for a position, and we see something like that, well, you're out. Nothing ever goes away on the Internet -- remember that!" he says.

Heard the one about glass houses and stones?

Also remember that, sometimes, no matter what you do, you'll manage to rub someone the wrong way, however innocent or innocuous your interests, says Coleman. In one example, he said a recruiter complained about how poorly many candidates presented themselves online but, when asked to bring up his own, it showed his preference for ugly sweaters and posing for pictures with his multitude of cats.

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