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Managing your Online Identity is Really Not that Difficult

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TechRadar posted an article yesterday that caused me about two seconds of anxiety before I remembered that I didn’t need to worry. According to the article, as a consequence of bosses and HR departments becoming savvy enough to start Googling their employees, social networking sites could eventually become nothing but stale, PR-conscious extensions of our CVs. Really? I have something like that already. I think other people call it LinkedIn.

Honestly, whenever I read the latest story about somebody’s online life getting them into trouble at work, my first reaction is “Idiot.” Not because of whatever they’ve posted, but because they did not take the time to imagine that they would ever have to account for it. With free email addresses and anonymous blogs available, it’s a mystery to me why anyone would choose to sully their “professional” online profile with information from their personal online profile that they might find difficult or embarassing to explain at a later date.

I have around 8 email addresses, all for different purposes and target audiences. I never any email business contacts from the addresses that I use for my friends or family, nor do I give out my “work” email address to friends or family. Using Thunderbird, I can check all of my addresses daily without having to log into multiple sites, and although I probably haven’t kept my address book as regimented as it should be, so far I haven’t had any trouble keeping my personal and professional life separate.

It’s the same with my Facebook profile: my privacy settings are set so that my page is not accessible to anyone buy friends who I have approved, and if anyone wants to have a peek they need to ask my permission first. In addition, there is nothing to stop me setting up a new profile that would be solely for work, where potential employers could see the aspects of my life that I don’t mind them knowing about.

The fact is, as society in general becomes more technologically aware, it is only a fool who expects that they will not be Googled. And while it may seem like a chore to keep two separate online identities updated on a regular basis, would you really want your boss to see those pictures from your graduation party? The easiest way to avoid your personal life causing you professional embarassment is to keep the two separate. And it is extremely easy to do so.

[Image by Cayusa]

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