Many of us grew up with the internet. Those that didn’t have likely used it for a long time, perhaps starting from when they were a teenager or young adult. I’m now in my 30’s and remember having it at home with that familiar dial up tone. In many cases, this means that the evidence of us growing up can be found online, including many of our most cringe-worthy moments! This might be fine if you’re not too worried about the image you present online or if people might go digging through your internet history. But sometimes your online past can come back to haunt you or even make you look immature now. So how can you make your online presence more grown-up and professional?
Get a New Email
Changing emails over the years is a natural thing to do as you switch email providers or start using different emails for different purposes. But sometimes you can find that you’ve ended up still using an old email address that no longer really suits you. This is often just out of convenience because you’ve used that email address for various accounts, mailing lists, and other things that you can’t be bothered to update with a new address. But it can also be annoying to hang onto an email address that you rarely use anymore and that could make you look a little strange if you ever need to share it with anyone else.
If you’re still hanging onto an old email, and maybe even still using it as your primary email address, it’s probably time to ditch it. Even if you’re just using it for personal stuff, it’s a good idea for it to be professional so you can use it to apply for jobs and more. Of course, it’s annoying to have to switch your email on various accounts and devices, but it will probably be a quicker process than you think. For Apple users, start with this guide for changing your Apple ID email https://setapp.com/how-to/how-to-change-apple-id-email It usually only takes a few seconds to change your email on most accounts, and you can do them as you remember them.
Make Personal Socials Private
Not everyone uses social media, but most people do use some kind of social app or website in their day-to-day lives. It’s to be expected by anyone who might interact with you outside of your personal life, such as employers or others you interact with at work. But that doesn’t mean you want your personal life mixed up with your professional life, even online. Some things should stay relatively private and only for the eyes of your friends and family.
If you haven’t already changed the privacy settings on your personal social accounts, now is the time to do it. It will prevent potential employers or random people from seeing anything you wouldn’t want them to see. Some people also choose not to use their real name, especially if they work in sensitive fields such as healthcare or education where they might not want patients or students looking them up. Of course, if you want to keep something completely private, it’s best not to put it online at all.
Have Professional Socials
It’s pretty common these days to have social media accounts just for professional purposes. Of course, people do this on sites like LinkedIn, which are designed for professional interactions. But you might also consider doing it on other social platforms, depending on your profession and whether it might benefit you. You could have social accounts that you use purely for networking within your industry or discussing your work so that you can keep it separate from where you’re going on holiday or your last big night out. Since many employers will now check people’s social media presence and even sometimes ask for your social handles, it can be a good idea to have professional examples of how you can engage with people online.
Delete Old Accounts
Most people probably have old accounts on various websites and apps that are still there somewhere. It’s easy to just forget about them, and it’s unlikely they will ever be relevant again. But sometimes they can be found and it’s not always for the best! Somewhere out there maybe you have said something that no longer represents your views. If you would rather they didn’t exist, deleting them can wipe the slate clean. It’s hard to ever truly delete something from the internet, but you can help to make sure people won’t see it unless they go digging for it.
Rethink How You Behave Online
If you really want to present more of a professional image of yourself online, you need to think about the choices you make. One of the ways you could end up looking less mature than you want to look, is if you’re not making an effort to behave in the right way. Maybe you have a tendency to be argumentative or reactionary when you’re talking to people online. Perhaps you sometimes find it easy to forget that you’re talking to real people, and say things you would never say offline. Making an effort to change your behaviour and be more mature can be one of the most important things that you do.
Set Up a Professional Website, Profile, or Portfolio
While it’s definitely not essential, some people can benefit from creating a professional website or profile for themselves online. Having a LinkedIn profile is pretty common, but there are also other options if you want to create an online portfolio or perhaps an online CV that tells people a bit more about you than a single-page printed CV can do. You can use various services to set up your site or profile, with some options that are designed for doing just that. Or you could simply create a website or a blog where you can create a professional profile for yourself.
Start looking more professional online by tidying up your online presence and creating a more professional image.