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Online Reputation and Your Search for a New Job

Online Reputation and Your Search for a New Job

While the nation’s unemployment numbers have showed signs of improvement in recent months, there are still millions and millions of Americans in search of a job.

With that being the case, many of them may not be entirely focused on one of the more important issues that can impact their search – their online reputation.

In today’s Internet world and with the ability to access just about every possible piece of information available on anyone at any given time, it behooves job seekers to make sure their online reputation will not come back to haunt them.

Yes, someone applying for a job can have a stellar work record, strong references and a great desire to want to be a part of the company they are interviewing with. That being said, it only takes one online slip up to mess up an otherwise impressive resume during an employer background check.

 

Importance of Online Reputation Management

With online reputation management, individuals can monitor their online activities and/or review what is being said about them.

According to one study, more than 85 percent of recruiters report they initiate a Google search on potential hires prior to determining whether or not to add them to their companies.

Among the things job candidates should look for online before applying and/or interviewing for a position is:

  • Any unflattering pictures of them making their way around the Internet;
  • Any tweets, shares etc. of language that could be considered offensive;
  • Any affiliations with groups that some employers would view as questionable, i.e. political, religious;
  • Any prior activities gone public that involved legal issues.

 

Make the Search Effort a Priority

In order to better understand your online reputation, start by doing a search of your name and what is and isn’t public about it.

Google your name and review the initial information provided. Next, look at items that could be viewed in a negative light by a potential employer, then delete any tags from pictures that can show you in a negative light.

Once you have removed any negative data and/or imagery, provide the Internet with positive information regarding yourself. This can be done in several manners, including positioning yourself as an expert in areas of employment that you are seeking.

If you are looking for work as a social media consultant, it is always good to demonstrate your knowledge of the field through tweets, shares, blog posts and more. By doing so, you paint yourself as knowledgeable of the field and others viewing such activity online will form a positive first impression of you.

Lastly, don’t automatically assume that you are out of the running for a job if something negative is floating around the cyber world about you. In the event you are confronted with the issue during a phone or in-person interview with a potential employer, do your best to explain away the situation so that there is little or no damage done to your reputation.

Remember, just about everyone has some form of Internet presence about them in today’s information age.

Do your best to make it your choice as to which pieces of information best represent you before you say yes to an interview.

 

Dave Thomas writes extensively for Business.com, an online resource destination for businesses of all sizes to research, find, and compare the products and services they need to run their businesses.

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8 comments

  1. I understand the motivation behind this article, and I think it’s great, practical advice. It is probably entirely correct….

    But I have to say, in my more idealist moments, in my heart-of-hearts, I wish it were not.

    To me, the statements a person makes online that are not explicitly presented as being in a professional capacity are part of a person’s non-professional life. It’s like being a member of a softball team or a book club.

    In the past, employers never screened the things a person shouted out at a soccer game, the political advocacy groups a person decided to join, or the blood alcohol level they had on the weekends when considering when to hire them. All of these are “public”, to be sure, but they are not part of a person’s professional life.

    Now, the internet has made it easier for employers to “search” these types of things, but that doesn’t make them any more relevant to the question of employment.

    I think there should (ideally) be a HUGE amount of push-back against this kind of thing. I don’t think (ideally) people SHOULD succumb to “cleaning up” their online presence, because UNLESS you are online dissing previous employers (which is just dumb) or doing something illegal (also dumb), what you look like in your facebook pictures and whether you swear in your twitter account should not be a factor in whether someone hires you.

    It should be illegal, in my opinion. And if I had my way, I’d instruct all potential employees to fight back against any employer who dared use social media to determine who effective he will be in the workplace.

    …but that’s the idealist in me. And I understand that, in the real world, this article is “good practical advice”.

    –Greg

  2. Another reminder that you need to be careful what you post on the Internet.

  3. How did I really search for a job? I find that todays job market is hampered by HR weenies who are completely ignorant about IT and scan resumes for buzzwords and acronyms they have no idea the meaning of, and they are incapable of deciding who should be interviewed and what sort of questions to ask an interviewee. Most IT types I know have no degree or certifications in the field either. As a result, an experienced tech entrepreneur like myself finds himself out in the cold and shut out of much of todays job market unless I put myself in a position to start another business and attract the attention of some entrepreneurial executive to work with me.
    How can this problem be resolved? Easy: businesses need to have an HR department that has people educated about the positions they are hiring for. Simple as that, especially with any tech field.

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