Career Advantage: Truth and Digital Clean-Up

When I was younger, in the years just before digital networking launched into full force, I refused to change my voicemail. I liked having a crazy voicemail recording that would throw people off. The messages received in return were hilarious to me. Sometimes I would play songs that sounded vaguely relevant to missing a call, sometimes I would make up a character and use a different voice. Of course, I also did that trick where you make the caller think that you answered the phone to make them feel dumb.

When I was applying for summer jobs during college, I neglected to think of the fact I was putting my cell phone number on these applications and that my voicemail was ridiculously unprofessional. I wasn’t applying for jobs on Wall Street or anything. But I still learned my lesson the hard way when I missed a call from the manager of a book store where I really wanted to work. Needless to say, he did not leave a message, and when I called the number back, I was humiliated (and embarrassed) as he told me why.

The days of silly voicemails are long gone for most of us, even when we’re not job-hunting. But also gone are the days where our phones were the first point of contact between us and a potential employer. Now you can be googled, facebooked, pinned, tweeted, and linked in before you’re even aware that someone knows your name.

No longer a voice-line first impression, online comes with her own set of conquests and consequences…

What does your online personality say about you?

Don’t want to double down what you already know, but it’s no new thing to warn about social networking. Movies and TV shows, career workshops, and our well-meaning conservative relatives have been telling us for at least a few years now.

First truth is, now is the right time for a digital clean-up.

Take an objective look at your online performance. From someone else’s computer, and perhaps even in someone else’s company, peruse your profiles. Search your own name. Make sure you not only check the web search, but the image search as well. If you find something questionable, fix it.

Objective honesty is the second truth… after examining your online presence, what three things (images included) do you believe should be edited or removed immediately?

Third truth: Editing or removing questionable content and images is not about censorship. Perhaps I used to think it was but I don’t believe that anyone, not even a potential employer, wants a carbon copy of every overly-dedicated “yuppie” out there.

Ultimate truth: Cleaning up your digital presence is about maintaining your credibility along with your individuality so that you don’t sabotage either the pursuit or stability of your career.

Interested in developing proven career success techniques or in securing cutting-edge career focused material, including interview best practice techniques or how to write effective resume/cover letters? Visit for a complete listing of available support. You may also contact us directly: to see how we can help you.

Rikki Payne, Career Consultant, Editor, and Writer
Education Career Services,
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