Many of my regular readers are newer EMTs and paramedics. Since you all are accessing my stories from my blog and rss feed, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most of you are somewhat internet savvy. I want to give you a friendly piece of advice. (That’s what this is all about right?)
I know some folks aren’t going to like hearing this. America is the land of the free and we don’t like people suggesting that we should limit our self expression in any way. But I’m saying this for your own good. I’m looking out for you here.
Clean up your internet presence.
There. I said it.
You’re not working at the Big 5 anymore. This is EMS. It’s not making burgers at the local grease shack. Your profession imparts a great deal of public trust. And the public and your employer are watching. That’s the way it should be. People invite you in to their homes when they are sick and injured. They let you dig through their bathrooms, their purses, their glove compartments. They trust you with their privacy and their health. That kind of trust comes at a cost. You now invite your life to be open to public scrutiny.
Perhaps you’re not getting my message. Let me be more blunt.
You need to google your name and see what comes up. You need to go to various search engines and social networking sites and really look at what people can find with your name attached to it. If you’re going through a background check for a job you can be sure your employer will do this as well. You need to do it first.
Those photos of you at the college party under the beer bong need to go. So does your Myspace nickname “Kissypants” and your “25 random things” note that details your obsession with Hugh Hefner’s 8th wife. Lose the story about painting cows orange as a prank (yes it was funny) and the photo collage of you flashing hand signs decked out in your best bling. All of it has to go.
While were at it you might want to delete the twitter messages that talk about how boring the latest CE was and the facebook update that talks about how tired you are after the all night rave. You also might want to reconsider your politically charged rants about covering yourself in pigs blood at the PETA rally or your speech to the young republicans of America about the merits of trickle down economics. Yes it’s a free country, but the “rage against the machine” rebel image might not fly with prospective employers.
I know that the internet is the marketplace of ideas. Be assured that these social movements will live on without your passionate contributions.
I’m sorry folks but the internet has a long, long memory. If your applying for a job in EMS and I’m on the hiring panel, you can bet that I’m going to find that stuff. I’ll friend you on Facebook, I’ll find you on Myspace, I’ll check out your last 400 twitter updates and I’ll read your blog from your opening post forward. Regardless of how you feel about it, I’m going to check you out on the internet. It’s part of the job you’ve chosen.
My advice to you is to get there first and clean it up.
So what if you have something out there that you don’t have control over? Maybe there are some embarrassing photos posted by someone else, a minor arrest record for streaking in high school or a group picture from the 2004 anime convention (I told you not to go.) What now?
Just between you and me … bury it.
Create a blog to discuss medicine or a respectable social movement. Start online fund raising for fresh water in Kenya. (No really.) Go to ask.com and answer some first aid questions. (Be professional.) Bury your bad stuff under so much wholesome goodness that anyone who’s searching for you will fall in love with you long before they find out about your previous drunken revelry at that Hoobastank concert or the time you punched an out of control Hare Krishna at the airport. (We know she was asking for it.)
I was fortunate to go through my college years before the great wave of social networks took over the internet. My internet presence remains blissfully professional. I’m glad the errors of my youth were not documented forever in cyberspace. It’s time to start cleaning up your public image. You may want to start right now. If you need one, here’s a link to google.