Alumni Application Tips: tidy up your online appearance

November 05, 2021

Jasmine Böhm on your digital impression in the internet

Before going to interview, we prepare ourselves best according to the required profile in order to make a good impression. Some people, however, neglect a key aspect of their appearance: the internet.

Virtual no-no's

It is an open secret that organizations research job applicants online before inviting them to an interview. Business schools eager to learn more about candidates use the same approach. So sometimes the first impression is not at the interview, but when the interviewer prepares to meet you. And as in "real" life, it is the first impression that counts. It can make all the difference in terms of whether or not you succeed in catching the business school's interest. What really matters in this context is not that you reveal absolutely nothing about yourself on the internet, but that you ensure you convey the image you want people to have of you. People will also get suspicious if in this day and age someone seems to have no online identity at all.

Here is my personal checklist:

1.    Make sure your e-mail address reveals a professional image of you. Nick names, references to your hobbies or fantasy names do not support a serious image. The simple the better: your name and the host and that’s it.

Do a vanity search: What information and photos do you find when you type your name into a search engine?

Next, review your profiles. Business portals such as LinkedIn play a key role in this context: It is vital that you keep the information you provide up to date. Moreover, you should actively participate in group discussions, as this will allow you not only to improve your visibility but also to give others an impression of your professional expertise and skills. Please only do so though, if you have really something to say. People who post on each and every tiny entry give me the impression, they have nothing better to do.

2.    Spruce up your online appearance. Delete any old social media profiles of yours that may still exist somewhere in the depths of the internet. Business schools are interested in neither the comics wallpaper of your old MySpace site nor the fact that you were once a member of the "My parents still live with me" group on StudiVZ. It goes without saying that inappropriate party photos from your youth are a definite no-no as well.

3.    Be sure to pay special attention to the privacy settings on Facebook. It is okay for you to have a public profile, as long as you maintain it meticulously. Before you post something, always ask yourself: "Do I want my future employer to see this?" Also, choose that you want to approve photos you are tagged in before they show up. If you think this is too much work, adjust the privacy settings on your profile or individual posts accordingly. The "View as …" tool is also veryhelpful. It allows you to see what your profile looks like to other people.

4.    If you have a corporate website, make sure it looks professional. Taking the time to ensure your website is up to date, engaging and user-friendly is an investment that will pay dividends.

A final word

There is one more piece of advice: the internet is a great tool for self-promotion. However, you should always be authentic and true to yourself. If you post about quantum physics on a daily basis to impress people but subsequently fail to live up to your billing during your interview, you will come across as someone who is not credible and end up doing yourself more harm than good.

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