Like A Diamond, The Internet Is Forever

The other day I received an email from someone who had commented on a blog post I wrote about five years ago.  There is some great career advice in this story.

This guy had commented on a post I wrote about presentation of self.  You know my thoughts on presentation of self.  As tweet 67 in my career success book Success Tweets says, “Demonstrate self respect.  Be impeccable in your presentation of self – in person and on line.”

Back to the story.  His comment said something like… “I don’t know what the big deal is about dress.  I like to wear T shirts and jeans.  Employers shouldn’t care.”  This is not an exact quote, but it captures the essence of what he said. 

He wrote to me last week asking me to delete his comment from my blog, as he was looking for a new job.  When he googled himself, he found that his comment on my ancient blog post was one of the few things that came up.  He was worried that this could hurt his chances of landing a new job.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t accommodate his request.  At that time, I was doing some blogging for a content aggregator.  This blog was one of the posts on their site.  They have since gone out of business.  That meant that their servers were shut down.  There was no way I could edit the post.

Get it? Even though I couldn’t edit it, the post was still available on the internet.  As the title of this post says, “Like a Diamond, The Internet is Forever.”

There’s important career advice here – on two fronts: your appearance and your web presence.  And this guy didn’t get either of them — when he commented on the post at least.  He seems to get it now. 

When he posted the comment, he thought that prospective employers should not judge him on what he wears.  Unfortunately this just isn’t true.  Unless you work for a really edgy start up, T shirts and jeans don’t cut it in most work places.  Second, he forgot that what you post on the internet will be there for a long time.

Let me provide you with some career advice on both of these issues: appearance first.

How you dress says a lot about how much you respect yourself, and how much you respect other people.  You read that right.  Your attire is about respect.  If you respect yourself, you will dress well and look good.  If you respect other people, you will dress well and look good.  It’s as simple as that.

One of my favorite quotes from the Napoleon Hill Foundation applies here.

“If you haven’t the willpower to keep your physical body in repair, you also lack the power of will to maintain a positive mental attitude in other important circumstances that control your life.”

While this quote is directed at your physical condition, it applies to the condition of your wardrobe as well.  You have to take the time to keep your clothes in good repair.  Clothes that are clean and pressed, fit well, and are in good repair show that you care.

Clothes that are wrinkled, have spots from previous wearings, are too tight – or too big – and have missing buttons or undone hems characterize you as someone who doesn’t care.  Someone with little self respect.  Someone with little respect for other people.

People notice how you look.  It’s as simple as that.  So put a little thought into getting dressed each day.  Make sure that what you wear reflects the professional you are.  You don’t have to spend tons of money on your wardrobe.  But you do need to maintain it.  Pay attention here, this is solid career advice.

Now let’s talk about your online presence. As the story above indicates, what you post on the internet – blogs, comments on blogs, tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn updates, YouTube videos – are going to be there forever.  When someone googles you – and prospective employers will and do – they will see what you’ve posted. 

If you post a lot, some things will get lost due to sheer volume.  However, if you don’t post a lot – like the guy in the story above – your posts may come back to haunt you.  The common sense career advice here?  Don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t want a prospective employer to see.  That’s pretty simple advice that is not always easy to follow.

For example, I see lots of things on the internet – especially political things – that make me want to go on a twitter rant; if you can rant in 140 characters that is.  But I restrain myself.  As I was taught at an early age, politics and religion have no place in business conversations.  These days, the two are becoming increasingly intertwined. 

I never get into politics on my blogs, tweets and updates because I don’t write a political blog.  I write a career success blog.  I don’t want to lose readership, or distract from my message by posting political rants that may offend someone.  So I stay away from politics when I’m online.

This applies to anything that might tarnish your image – profanity, angry rants, posts that present you as a ditz, videos and photos that show you drunk or drinking.  Remember the famous Michael Phelps bong hit picture?

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have fun, have strongly held opinions, curse or act a little silly every now and then.  I am saying that you shouldn’t do these things on the internet.

The common sense career success coach point here is simple.  Follow the career advice in Tweet 67 in Success Tweets.  “Demonstrate self respect.  Be impeccable in your presentation of self – in person and on line.”  A little restraint in your internet posts will help you create an impeccable on line persona.  Because everything on the internet can be found by someone who looks hard enough, make it easy on yourself and think “will this help or hurt my career success chances” before you hit the enter button.

That’s my career advice on managing your presentation of self – in person and online.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.  I value you and I appreciate you.

Bud

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