People increasingly live their lives online through blogs, forums, business networks, social gaming, photo-sharing platforms, apps and growing social networks. Moreover, we are in a time where news and even fake news, and the trails of comments generated, have become so immediate and so permanent.

What is the impact for those looking at new employment opportunities? Only a few years ago we encouraged our candidates to look after their online presence, but now it seems we need to do more than that. It’s time to use these platforms to network and engage, showcasing your skills, interests and professionalism. As educationalists, it is important to demonstrate your digital literacy and how you understand the online landscape that your pupils, the ‘digital natives’, are growing up in.

4 ways to protect your online presence and position yourself effectively when job hunting.

Who are you in the virtual world? Even the most modest amongst us will probably admit to Googling ourselves from time to time and now more than ever, you are right to do so. Managing your online profile as a school leader is always important and more so when entering the job market.

The days of your CV being the extent of your representation are a distant memory. Governors, recruitment consultants and proactive stakeholders will undertake extensive reviews of candidates’ online information. So, your CV might well look good, but how about your online reputation?

1. Social Media - Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all rank highly in Google searches:

Beware the pitfalls of a CV that does not match your LinkedIn page. When entering the job market ensure your information online is up to date, accurate and professional. Consider who is in your network, and how large and significant the network is. Who you are connected to reflects on you personally. Who is endorsing you and your skills. An increasing number of opportunities are now advertising through business networking sites.

Don’t fail to lock down your Facebook account appropriately, where your comedy selfies, family beach snaps and potentially inappropriate friends’ comments could be on display. You need to take control of your web presence by limiting who can post to your profile and monitor posts about you. If you are not sure how to, ask a teenager. Be aware of the companies or pages that you ‘like’ as your image will often be viewed on those companies’ homepages. Ensure your own school Facebook page is highly professional, adhering to child protection policies and procedures.

If you are a keen Tweeter, either in your professional or private life, consider carefully your comments. Twitter storms can erupt with incredible speed. Perhaps a diligent marketing manager might be busy Tweeting on your behalf, so ensure that they really are talking the talk that you desire.

If a picture tells a 1000 words, then consider the power of film on-line. Be diligent with YouTube videos and even your professional school clips. They will be under scrutiny.

2. Tomorrow’s fish and chip paper? – Local, national and international press

No, not any more. The quotes you have given newspapers for articles, will also all be online on the newspapers’ websites. More increasingly, reporters will also ask for the opportunity to make a short video for your film quote. If you are keen to appear, ask for the questions beforehand, giving yourself time to prepare a comment.

3. The world of comments, blogs and ratings – keep an eye on your school’s profile online

School advice websites and forums are providing both parents and staff the chance to review schools. Keep an eye (or ask your marketing manager to), on these types of sites. Beware the parent or past employee with an axe to grind. Deal directly with any complaints or negative comments by offering a private opportunity for a resolution, where possible avoid entering a debate online. Devise a 'response tree' to help the SLT or SMT to decide when to respond and how to. A scale of response is best, ranging from minor comments which could be best ignored to serious ones which need a considered approach and response.

Having a 'Social Media Policy' for all staff which sets out terms of engagement with other stakeholders; particularly pupils and parents is advisable. Inappropriate comments from your staff team can also have an impact on your online reputation.

4. Bettering your reputation on-line

The best way to manage your online reputation is by generating positive search results that will rank as highly as possible in a search. Writing articles for the sector or contributing to online debates is a positive way to enhance your online reputation. Advice pieces are an excellent way to offer education websites free editorial, which will be of interest to their readers i.e. ‘How to prepare your child for school’ or ‘How to structure revision at home.’

Online living, be it during work or socially, needs to be carefully monitored for all those leading a professional life. For most school leaders, they are rarely off duty, they live and breathe their communities. The internet remains a wonderful platform for the promotion of our schools, providing countless opportunities for our communities and for championing education. So, to that end, it isn’t all bad news. For school leaders embarking on the journey of securing a new position, this issue of managing personal PR, both on and off-line, is increasingly significant.

Good luck.

Claudia Clark, Marketing Manager, LSC Education