Young Professionals & Netiquette

The etiquette guidelines that govern behavior when communicating on the Internet have become known as netiquette. Netiquette covers not only rules of behavior during discussions, but also guidelines that reflect the unique electronic nature of the medium. Netiquette usually is enforced by fellow users who are quick to point out infractions of netiquette rules.

Your online brand is made up of your presence in social media and networking websites and communicates your personal information, background and interests, to any person who views your profiles or other contributions to the internet (e.g. blogs, newspaper articles, etc.). Many employers “Google” the applicants, and the information they gather can make or break their decision to hire a candidate.

Social Profiles

Think of your online profiles as your virtual business card.

Establish a consistent profile across each website (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blog)
Pay attention to privacy settings and control strangers’ ability to view information. Don’t assume your information is private.
Know when not to share.
Use correct grammar and spelling to convey a level of maturity and professionalism even on purely social sites.
Always interact with your reputation in mind. The internet has a long memory and something you post in college, may cause trouble in the future.
Your Network

Your network is made up of every person you know who can potentially provide information on finding careers or jobs you want to pursue. Think of your network as a giant web of interconnected links tying each contact to another.

Evaluate

Identify your current network and note areas where it can grow. For example, could you benefit from making more contacts with professors who specialize in your chosen career field?
Inform your closest contacts of your job search status and goals.
Differentiate between the types of contacts in your networks: professional (employers, professionals), personal (family, close friends) and pro-personal (close professors, classmates, coworkers, supervisors).

Connecting

Avoid appearing as a spammer or stalker by asking for an introduction from a mutual connection.
Contact through email or message before requesting to connect on websites (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook).
Clarify your intentions when making the connection. If you are looking for career advice for entering a particular field, say so in your message.

Cultivating Connections

Take the “me” mentality out of the equation and focus on building quality relationships with your network.
Give first, receive second by providing your network with relevant information that they will be interested in.
Never ask for a job outright.

E-communicating professionally

Communicating professionally through e-mails is extremely important when building your network and job searching. Practice good habits daily so you don’t accidently use “text talk” in your e-mails, resume and cover letters.

Make sure that your message is clear. Include a subject line so the reader has a sense of what the topic is.
Don’t send emails when you are angry. You are more likely to say something that you should not. Once committed to ‘paper’ your messages can precipitate a string of back and forth interactions that fuel the equivalent of an online argument.
Don’t communicate in all capitals. In the online world, this is the equivalent of yelling.
Edit your messages before sending them. It is better to be short and sweet when sending email. You have a better chance that the full email will be read and your message communicated. Anything more than a few lines should really be done via phone or in person.
Be careful about what you send in email. Information sent online is very public; others can access it. There is no such thing as a deleted email.

The following questionnaire is a good resource to “check” your on-line identity:

E-mail Address

Choose an address that is permanent and uses your name and/or initials as much as possible so it does not appear as Spam.

Email:

This email is:

Answer options: Permanent // Expires in the near future

In your opinion, this address is:

Answer options: Professional // Funny

Google Yourself

Search Google, Yahoo and other search engines to see what information about you is available on the Internet.

Are you comfortable with what you found?

Answer options: Yes // No

Social Networking / Blog Sites:

Foreach site you belong to, would you be comfortable if an employer were to see your

Profile?

Answer options: Definitely // Give me a half-hour // Employers check this stuff?!?

Pictures?

Answer options: Definitely // Give me a half-hour // Employers check this stuff?!?

Groups?

Answer options:  Definitely // Give me a half-hour // Employers check this stuff?!?

Friends’ Comments?

Answer options: Definitely // Give me a half-hour // Employers check this stuff?!?

Friends’ Profiles?

Answer options: Definitely // Give me a half-hour // Employers check this stuff?!?

Posts?

Answer options:  Definitely // Give me a half-hour // Employers check this stuff?!?

Resume:

If you have a resume posted on-line, it should be updated at least once a semester so you appear to be an active job searcher.

For each place that posted your resume, are you familiar and comfortable with the site’s privacy policy?

Answer options Yes // No // I don’t know

Has your resume been posted on the Internet by an academic department or organization?

Answer options: Yes // No // I don’t know

If your resume is posted on the Internet, do you know when the resume will be removed from the site(s)?

Answer options:  Yes //  No

Do all materials include contact information?

Answer options: Yes // No

Think a while at the questionnaire results and plan what you can improve in your online presence.

And don’t forget: leave l8r for later!