By: Tara Teeling
Those who know me know that chocolate makes me happy. I can take it in the form of a bar, as a drink, or in the form of a cake, and each brings a great sense of bliss. That said, sometimes the presentation of what I’m considering will put me off, and it doesn’t matter what the percentage of cacao is, or whether it was made in a French chocolaterie or by Godiva herself. I like my chocolate cake on a pleasing plate, and not on a garbage can lid.
What I mean by this is that presentation really is everything at times, and this doesn’t apply to just chocolate. Whenever you are interacting with other people, you are presenting yourself. While it is fine to eat off the floor (if you that’s what you’re into) when you’re home alone or with friends and family who don’t have a problem with it, it probably isn’t a good idea when you’re trying to make a good first impression. When you want to show your best self, go get a plate.
When in a professional setting, you need to really consider what behaviours you are demonstrating. Is your language appropriate to those around you? Is the topic suitable or sensitive to others? Whether or not it is your intention, other people are listening. Also, how are you dressed? Would you think someone wearing what you’re wearing belongs in a professional setting? While we all have our own conversational style and preferences for dress, when in the workplace you are a reflection of your employer, and your behaviours and appearance should be in keeping with that employer’s values. By adhering to the established standard, you are affording everyone you interact with a level of respect which you will likely receive in return. Most importantly, this keeps the work environment free from hostility, creating a more pleasant atmosphere in which productivity is high, as is satisfaction.
Aside from personal interaction and conversational style, there is your social media presence to consider. What will a potential employer see if they look for you online? The reality is that recruiters and employers use the internet as a screening tool, and if your online persona is in any way negative or indicates that you would not be a wise hire, then you won’t be. What you need to do is manage the situation, and the first thing you should do is search for your own name on Google and Facebook. Concentrate on the first few links in Google, and determine whether what you find could be construed as negative or off-putting. Have you found disparaging comments you’ve made about former employers, or photos of you that show you in situations that may be embarrassing? If so, you just found chocolate cake on a garbage can lid, and it’s time to get a plate.
Here are some tips to help you clean up your online presence:
- If you’ve found unfavourable results about yourself using a search engine, you can request that the pages be removed from their results. Google actually has a process for this: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061?rd=1 Using this link, you can request removal of pages that include information about you that you don’t want made available to others.
- Facebook: There could be a photo or two of you that may present you in a less than flattering way. The first thing to do is delete the photos that may be seen as offensive. Without deleting them, anyone can copy them and post them as their own photo, which could make it almost impossible to remove. If you would like to keep the photo on your Facebook profile, then the other option is to access your account’s Privacy Settings and select “Limit Past Posts”.
- Twitter and LinkedIn: Think before you tweet, and make sure if you’re posting an article on your LinkedIn profile, that the article is relevant to the professional persona you are putting forward.
Once you’ve taken the cake off the garbage can lid, it’s time to find a proper plate. In terms of your online personality, this means modifying your online content by posting photos that you know are flattering and avoiding posting any kind of negative remarks. People are going to look you up; this is the age we live in and it isn’t going to change, so why not make sure they only find out what you want them to know? You want people to be interested in who you are for the right reasons. Remember: don’t post it if you do not want it made public!
If you really want to entice them, ice that cake. Build an online profile that showcases your interests. There are countless websites where you can create online portfolios to show the things you enjoy, as well as the skills you have. This is not limited to job search sites, and could include online communities that centre on your particular interests, blogging sites or photography sites. Make sure that the email address you are using is something that won’t embarrass you, as employers don’t necessarily respond to humourous or derogatory addresses in the way your friends may. Creating an email address that is specifically for your job search is an option, as long as you use it consistently.
The main thing is to be truthful. You will stand well on your own, and embellishments aren’t necessary. You just need to present yourself in a way that is appealing and is guaranteed to pique interest in a positive way.
Chocolate cake: indisputably good on its own, but best offered on a pleasing plate.