You don't have to be a comic book fan to know that the “Man of Steel” spends most of his time pretending to be a mild mannered newspaper reporter. Even though he's faster than a speeding bullet, Ka-El knows that in order to get by in the workplace without drawing undue attention, it's better to adopt the non-threatening persona of Clark Kent during the day. No one would ever suspect a man like Clark of being a superhero because he goes out of his way to avoid conflict and never takes any sort of stand on anything. Although he's often taken for a pushover, Clark Kent is a good employee and despite several close calls, he has been a successful cover, allowing the super strong alien to blend in to Earth society.
These days, we all could use a little Clark Kent to help us keep our private lives (which may be controversial) and our professional lives separate. With the rise of social media and the increased use of the internet, we have begun putting more and more of our lives online. We check in when we go out with friends, we have dating profiles, we comment on movies and sometimes get into heated debates about plot lines that most people don't care about, we post pictures on Instagram and sometimes even share our personal drama on Facebook. It's just how things are done these days and there's really no way to avoid it, aside from not going near a computer, a tablet or a smart phone. The problem is that employers, in an ever increasing number, have begun searching the web for information about applicants in order to determine if they will be a good fit for their company.
It feels like an invasion of privacy because few of us would like our bosses to know the intimate details of our private lives. After all, do you really want everyone to know that you frequently post on “My Little Pony” message boards? Probably not – but how can you keep your private life under wraps?
The best way to successfully accomplish this is to create an entirely new identity. This new person can have their own life online and even share information with friends without it being traced back to you in a web search. Here's how:
Create a new you – If you're trying to keep some things private, you'll have to have a new name and a new email address. When an employer does a web search on you they will probably search your name, your email address, your home address or maybe just the name of your town. In order for your new identity not to be linked to you, these will have to change. For example, if your name is William Smith and your live in Pittsburgh, PA, just posting as Bill Smith isn't going to be enough. Instead, you can be Jim Jones who lives outside of Pittsburgh. There are plenty of places where you can get a free email address to complete the new identity.
Use your browser's incognito mode – It might seem like being overly cautious, but it's a good idea to use the incognito mode on your browser. If you use Firefox or Chrome, you can select this under the settings tab. There are many websites that store cookies on your computer and with just a wrong click of your mouse, you could end up accidentally sharing things on Facebook or other social networking sites. There are plenty of reasons why private browsing is a good idea, not just because you're doing something illegal or trying to hide your activity.
Keep your accounts separate – If you are going to be logged into accounts using your real identity and your new identity at the same time, you're going to have to be extra careful not to get the two confused. Still, it can be done. The best way is to use a browser like Chrome for one identity and Firefox for the other. Be sure to keep the two identities completely separate. Don't make them friends on Facebook or any other social networking site and be sure not to share posts from one to the other.
Don't use the same pictures – This is where many people go wrong. You will have to use a different picture for your new identity's social media profiles. You don't have to use someone else's pictures, you can still use your own photos. The key is to never re-use the same photo from one identity to the other. One reason is because a simple Google Image search will reveal all the accounts that use a specific photo, making the connection between the two identities obvious. You can always take a page out of Superman's book and simply put on glasses for the secret identity's photos.
When you're looking for a job, you have to expect that every potential employer will do the research to find out what sort of person you are. They will comb the Internet to find out how you talk to others, what you do with your free time and they will judge you and your lifestyle based on the photos you share. If you still want to share the drunken party pictures and feel free to do what you like online, having a secret identity is the best way to keep it private.
What do you do to keep your private life away from your professional image? Please share your thoughts, tips and tricks in the comments.
Image source: MorgueFile
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