Before posting that selfie of yourself at a rock concert, or making a statement about the current state of politics, you might want to stop and think. What may seem funny or clever at the time, could come back and bite you. If you’re seeking employment, it’s especially important to consider ways to manage your online reputation.
As a job seeker, you should have a good understanding of reputation management, since it could make the difference in whether you secure an interview and/or a job. Just as an organization monitors its reputation, you should monitor your “personal brand” reputation.
What is reputation management?
Wikipedia defines it as influencing and controlling an individual's or group's reputation, while online reputation management focuses on the management of product and service search website results. Simply put, your online reputation is how others see you when searching for you online.
Reppler, a reputation management firm, conducted a survey of 300 hiring professionals, and found that 91percent thoroughly scrutinize an applicant’s online reputation during the hiring process. The survey found that Facebook was the most screened social network, followed by LinkedIn. Nearly 70% said they had rejected a candidate based upon what they saw about them on a social networking site.
Managing your online reputation isn’t just about not posting unflattering things on your own social channels
It’s about actively monitoring and controlling what comes up about you when someone searches for you. Most recruiters pay attention to what is listed on the first page of search results. You will want to ensure that what pops up there reflects well on you. There are a few strategies you can use to help control what search engines prioritize about you:
- Create, if possible, a website with your full name as the URL. Look for free templates to develop your site with basic information, as well as inexpensive web hosting.
- Even if you aren’t currently using social media, create a profile on Facebook and LinkedIn to claim your name. Social sites rank high in online searches. Since LinkedIn is important as a business tool, optimize your profile with keywords related to your job, and request recommendations from colleagues that will appear on your profile.
- When you post images of yourself online, place your name in the caption, the ALT Text field and the image file name, so it can be found if someone does an image search on you.
- Review the privacy settings of all your social networks, and make sure the settings are as restrictive as you feel comfortable with. Don’t forget to review any posts and images you’re tagged in, and approve them, before they are posted on your timeline. You can decide not to post that embarrassing selfie, but if your friend does and tags you, the results are the same.
- Don’t engage with detractors. If someone posts something negative about you, responding will just draw more attention to the original post. When you do find something negative about yourself, don’t keep returning to the site, because that sends the message to the search engine that the site is important. Your best defense is to generate positive information to move the negative information off the first page, and deeper in search results.
- Assume that everything online is there forever, so post and engage accordingly.
Understanding what reputation management is, and managing your online reputation by taking control of your personal brand, may just make the difference in helping you land your dream job.