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#Hired: Digital Reputation Advice for the Class of 2017

Congrats to the class of 2017! Whether you are graduating with your bachelor’s degree, receiving your masters or even a high school diploma – the job market has changed since you started your program and how you can leverage social tools for your career advancement. This is a good thing! 

Graduate Throwing CapThis is the third year I’ve written to the graduating class – each offering a slightly different spin on what I see in the digital landscape. For the class of 2014, I outlined how to be a triple threat in your job search using Twitter, LinkedIn, and Blogging. Read that post (here). In 2015, a recent graduate from my doctoral program, I expanded beyond platforms into finding a digital mentor, posting with a purpose, creating a reflective checklist, and downloading your digital history. Read more (here). Both of these posts are still very applicable and relevant for graduates in 2017. 

A major shift this year for graduates is to get very creative and resourceful in the search, investment of and creation of original content – including on themselves and their future employer. 

In this post, I offer five pieces of digital reputation advice that will get you #Hired. This is inspired from a recent keynote I delivered at New York Institute of TechnologyThese five digital reputation tools include: Digtial Reputation Tools

1.  Google Me, I Dare You

Stop everything you are doing – including reading this article – and Google yourself. Go ahead. I’ll wait. But a warning, recruiters, and employers will not.

Recruiters and potential employers are not waiting for your permission to search you on Google or see if you have a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account. Your job search is a not a truth or dare game, but are you rolling the dice in what they might find? Honestly, are you confident in not just your google results, but all your social platforms? I dare you to take ownership of your digital reputation – and keep digging. 

Google Search Page

Get searching for your name on Twitter. Then Instagram. Onto Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, maybe even Redditt. Search every platform you can think of – with any way you have noted your full name. If there are limited or no results of you, add in where you grew up, where you went to school or organizations you have been part of (greek life, student organizations, etc). 

It is important to know your search results on all platforms for a few reasons:

  • Ensure you only have one account associated with each platform. For example, if I wasn’t actively searching my name on Twitter I wouldn’t have discovered that my likeness was duplicated over 150 times. Also, if you have “chosen” to have multiple Instagram (Finsta) or Facebook accounts – this may get confusing or even concerning. Check your privacy settings, report stolen accounts and hey maybe even think about just have one account that really represents you.
  • Especially if you have a common name, a lot of results may not be you. This doesn’t happen a lot, but sometimes your name could be the same as a convicted felon, porn star or another controversial figure – maybe they even look like you! This knowledge is powerful and depending you may direct/clarify to a recruiter or potential employer to your actual results. This is where #3 will really help you.

Having an accurate and ongoing check-in to your digital presence is step one to embracing your digital reputation and will give you confidence to “dare” an employer to Google you without flinching. Own your results – and the rest of this article will give you tools to curate a digital reputation that serves up the google results you want to appear first.  For mor insight on how to google yourself, check out this article from reputation management (here).

2. Craft Your Brand

Say it with me – you are a brand. A personal, real and professional one. You represent yourself, your family, your school, and will very soon represent your employer. Your activity on social media mixed in with your actions on the street equate to your brand – what you are known for. How do people describe you? Your qualities, your values, your life purpose? How do all these questions match up with what you do every day, with what you are posting online?

Embracing your brand doesn’t mean you are leaving YOU behind to sell out to marketing, professional standards or politically correct measures. Approach your brand through a personal and holistic lens, but get to know the context of each social platform to see how your personality and professional expertise can shine.

I’ll use myself as an example, in the image below is a collage of my social/mobile platforms. From Youtube, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. What themes can you find, what about the differences? Can you get a small sense of my personality or interests? How would you describe the brand of me?Josie Social Platforms

How would you describe your personal brand? Where can you find it online? I’d like to challenge you to do this same exercise, gathering up screenshots of all of your accounts and compare. I am not suggesting all your cover photos match, or even your bio is the same on all platforms. You’ll notice my Instagram bio is much more playful than LinkedIn – however, both are clear that my brand/mission is a digital leadership educator.
This exercise is nearly a warm-up activity for bigger branding considerations. As you look to clarify your bio on different platforms consider the five qualities of a strong (short) bio: Value proposition, industry keywords, action verbs, personality, and spelling.

3. Invest in Online Tools

Don’t worry, this investment won’t cost you a dime.
Josie digital reputation roundupBut it will take an investment of your time. Building a digital reputation that fuels the search results you want employers to find means investing in consistent activity.
Google loves LinkedIn, Twitter and a website/blog with your name on it. As you can see in my search results, Google also loves that I was in a YouTube video that received 15 million views. If you need a brain break – check out that video here.
The more active you are on LinkedIn and Twitter, these accounts will quickly pop to the top of your results. Even creating a free blog on WordPress, Medium, Tumblr or Blogger will show up after a month of consistent activity. I’ll give you plenty to consider in #5 to curate content.
Social media allows users to jump on and off throughout the day. However, investing in your digital reputation will take focused time. Schedule out weekly time in the next month. First, follow the advice I shared a couple of years ago, that gives detailed steps to creating and/or improving your Twitter, LinkedIn and Blog/Website.
Once you have your accounts updated, following influencers in your industry, groups added that interest you, and familiarized yourself with relevant hashtags/Twitter chats – it’s time to establish some digital reputation time management habits. Continue to schedule specific time into your week for Twitter and Linkedin. Further, set up at least one method to find interesting content that you can curate then share.
Google AlertsFor example, I use google alerts where I will receive a digest of search results based upon specific terms. Some of my alerts include:  “Higher Education “Social Media” and “Student Leader” “Social Media.”
So, anytime there is news or an article with these keywords, I receive an email. If I find an article interesting, I will share it to my networks on Twitter, LinkedIn and sometimes even Facebook. Not only are you sharing relevant material to your followers, but over time you will be seen as a quality content curator – a credible news source. This investment of your time will fuel your digital reputation. Your digital reputation ignites getting hired.

4. Search for More than Jobs

For as much detail I offered on Googling yourself and building an awareness of your digital presence – as a job seeker you can take these same search techniques into your job search. This digital reputation advice is not directing you to an endless list of locations to go search for jobs. I want you to use “search” for more than a job postings. The majority of jobs are landed through people. So, I want you to be searching for specific people who I called digital influencers – especially if you have narrowed down your job search for a specific company. Below I have listed an example I used during my keynote at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT).
For example, if I was interested in working at NYIT I would search everywhere possible to learn more about this institution. A few suggestions: Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter LinkedIn, Yelp, and Glassdoor. Read reviews, recent posts from the campus and the students/community, videos that show the campus, etc. From this search, I want you to be on the look out for people – the digital influencers of that organization. For NYIT on Twitter, their ‘digital influencers’ include the NYIT twitter account, dean of campus life and a number of other administrators and faculty. The campus president doesn’t even make top 10.

Follow these accounts/people and learn what is important to the services they are providing at NYIT. This gives you an understanding of what it’s like to work there, but also the context for your cover letter/resume and interview. Also, I found those that are very active on Twitter are also open to replying to direct tweets or via direct message. Get an informal interview scheduled directly on twitter, that could lead to a phone call!

These interactions may not immediately lead to an interview or job offer. However, the network you build from precise searches online will pay off in your job search down the line.

5. Create Original Content


That video gives me chills every time I watch it. If you are not familiar with Casey Neistat, he is a successful YouTuber that has turned his digital influence into a social media company and HBO series The Neistat Brothers. As a graduate, you have access to tools, people, and possibilities unlike any other time in history. You don’t have to wait to get a job, a promotion, be a CEO or even the US president to make an impact.
As a student, you are already content creator. Hundreds of papers, presentations, projects, products – all (hopefully) saved on your computer. Your degree gives you expertise that others need. Your content is waiting for the world to see.
So instead of consuming content – like sharing someone else’s articles or watching youtube videos – I want you to become a content creator who is actively curating and producing original content – your content. Being a content creator is a trait that employers are looking for. It tells your story and speaks to the expertise you have with every new piece of content you put out.
Still need some inspiration? Let’s bring Casey Neistat back for a final pep talk in a video called Do What You Can’t.

Do what society says you can’t. Don’t wait to be hired by the Huffington post to write – start sharing your own content – now! Start doing!

Now I know from personal experience how daunting this call to action may seem. I started and stopped blogging a number of times, feeling like an imposter while I stumbled to find the courage to push publish. But without blogging, I would not be where I am today. My own boss, traveling around the world, helping students up to CEO’s thrive online.
Depending on your industry and your personal brand, different platforms will serve a better purpose for you. Below I have listed a list of platforms to consider. Comment below and let me know what digital space you have carved out for your expertise to shine online! It is in that shine that will attract employers and get you #Hired.

Blogging Video/Audio Portfolio/Website Other
WordPress YouTube Weebly Pinterest
Medium Periscope Wix Slideshare
Tumblr SoundCloud Squarespace Behance
Blogger Twitch About Me LinkedIn
Squaresquare Musically WordPress


About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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Rebekah Tilley

Assistant Vice President, University of Iowa Center for Advancement

Rebekah Tilley is the assistant vice president of communication and marketing for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement (UICA). In that role she supports fundraising and alumni engagement efforts for the university, including its CASE Gold winning Iowa Magazine, and serves UICA in a variety of strategic communication efforts.

Previously she was the director of strategic communication for the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, and the director of communication for the University of Kentucky College of Law. She is a Kentucky native and a proud alum of the University of Kentucky.

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