Managing your online reputation is a must. Never more so than when you are job searching. The fact is – your good reputation is the foundation upon which your life and/or business is built. Your good rep helps build trust and credibility. And is something you should judiciously guard.
Google says this about your reputation…
“Your online identity is determined not only by what you (socially) post, but also by what others post about you — whether a mention in a blog post, a photo tag or a reply to a public status update.”
In a nutshell, your online reputation is made up of everything about you which can be found online. The range of materials, which could potentially impact your personal rep, with the potential of losing you a job, is much broader than you might first realize. In short, there is likely far more info a hiring company, HR pro or interviewer can discover about you than you may think.
Though you may not realize it:
Search engines, like Google, Yahoo and Bing pick up every post – every comment you make – every photo and graphic you post – every graphic or photo you’ve been tagged as included in; and more. Not to mention search engines pick up every comment anyone makes about you. Not just selected posts, and comments. Everything.
Good or bad. True or False. Add all these comments together with what you’ve painstakingly accomplished – the unique and professional skills and work you’ve mastered – and you have what amounts to your Online Reputation.
Bogus or not this is your digital footprint.
Technically your online reputation is made up of:
Everything about you which exists online. Regardless whom this information is posted by. The range of materials which could potentially impact your reputation, and the potential of being hired, is much broader than you might first realize. Even negative issues, which may also arise through mistakes and the miscommunication of or with others, can ripple throughout the Internet in surprising ways which can change your reputation overnight.
Here are some components of your online image (rep):
#1 Comments made about you on any social media platform – for example Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn. Any social site; including photo posting sites like Flikr, SmugMug and Shutterfly. Also comments made by an individual who may be a competitor for the same job, current and/or past co-workers, previous bosses, for example.
#2 Images online. Those photos a friend posted of that wild beach party you attended last summer or out-of-bounds birthday celebration at the local bar where you danced on a table – will all be available on the Internet unless privately posted. Even if another individual posted them on their social page and ‘tagged’ you as being in the photo.
#3 Videos (Good or Bad) on YouTube and elsewhere.
#4 Posts you’ve made on other social pages; for example Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter; responses to another’s comments made on any social site.
#5 Articles you’ve had published on anyone else’s social page, blog or your own blog.
#6 Information provided by your state or county. This could include divorce, death notice info related to a family member, lawsuits, civil complaints, for example.
All of these comments, posts and anything else which has your name attached to it, or in which it’s mentioned, allows search engines like Google to gather it up, save and post these items under your name online. Thereby creating your online reputation. This information can be discovered by anyone who googles you. In short, it can all be found.
10 Tips for Monitoring Your Online Reputation
First Google yourself to discover what can be found. Do this by adding “quotations around your name”.
Depending on what info comes up, you may want to:
1.Change the privacy settings on your social profiles to limit what you share and can be publicly seen by others online. Years ago Facebook turned on ‘public sharing’ for all new Facebook accounts. Today they turn on ‘private’ when you sign up. Check to make sure your Facebook page is private if you only want fans, followers and friends to read your posts.
2.Ask friends and family or co-workers not to share your comments and/or posts if you prefer them not to be public. Delete those who do not comply.
3.If you aren’t job searching you may want to change your LinkedIn page access to private. Meaning only your LinkedIn connections will have access to your posts.
4.When possible, delete information, posts, your comments which respond to another’s post or social comment/s (found on your own social pages) – and which you no longer want public.
5.Delete articles you no longer want to be known for or ask they be deleted. For example, you may have written an article on a topic for a political group you belong to; which in hindsight you realize you should not have published.
6.Delete photos and graphics you no longer want the public to see. This could be anything from questionable graphics to a naked dancing santa.
7.Some online sites, you may publish to, have the ability to change your submission. Be aware. If this happens, call or email them and ask it be returned to its original form or deleted.
8.Ask anyone you know, who has posted negative or questionable info, compromising photos and other info about you, online, to remove it.
9.Delete forum comments you’ve made, if possible. Drop your membership in any forum which may no longer serve your purposes.
10.Delete avatars you may have used, replacing them with an actual current photo of yourself.
What is your reputation worth?
Your reputation can carry more weight than money; especially if job searching.
Companies, today, openly state they’ll check your social platforms. Some even have investigators on retainer. Hired to search for everything and anything related to a candidate they’re considering hiring. While there is plenty of personal info they’re unable to access, they can access anything from owing taxes to your county, state or the IRS to non-payment of property taxes and your driving record. All publicly available data. In fact, some companies investigate every individual who is set up for an interview.
What else are interviewers and hiring pros looking for on your social pages?
Here are a few other items they want to discover.
What you may have posted about your current or last boss or co-workers. Are you bitterly complaining about them; sharing negative stories, insulting or verbally abusing them in other ways? Have you been grumbling about being passed over for a promotion, for example? Have you been sharing privileged company info? Are you sharing controversial political info which is stirring up your FB friends and others? Are you posting, in detail, about your own personal issues; issues which could potentially affect your job performance? Do your posts hint about socially unacceptable behavior?
It’s a fact. Every second, every minute – somewhere on the Internet – an individual or brand’s reputation is being slandered or irrevocably harmed. And not always at the hand of co-workers, old bosses or people they know. It can also come from social posts and comments they or you make. In short your own social behavior helps create your online rep.
On the one hand, lost business revenue can be calculated. On the other, cost of an individual’s hard-earned reputation – one which took years to develop – is incalculable. Says Warren Buffet “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently;”
Stay in charge of your own reputation. Regularly monitor it. And clean it up when necessary. In short – judiciously guard it.
Jean L. Serio CEIC, CDI, CPC, CeMA