Published by Blanca Carton, September 2011
In the past, looking for a job basically involved checking out the classified ads in the local newspaper or handing your resume out to relatives and friends in case any of them knew of a job you could fill. Today, in addition to this, you must also post your resume on the top job sites: InfoJobs (www.infojobs.net), Monster (www.monster.es), LinkedIn (www.linkedIin.com),…
Companies turn to these sites to select candidates quickly and easily. During the selection process they gather both ‘traditional’ information on applicants (education, work experience, etc) and also data regarding their online reputation.
Bear in mind that “First impressions are now shaped by the digital footprint you leave online, long before you meet someone in person”. “When you consider search engines are the first place people go to search for information, you can see that understanding your online reputation, as well as the techniques to protect, manage and enhance it has never been more important” (source: Ben Cotton “5 basic things you should be doing to manage your online reputation”).
Just like in real life, your online reputation will follow you everywhere, for good or bad: the way you interact on the Web with companies, teachers, students, friends, relatives…, your posts and tweets (your interests, what you share and who you share it with), etc.
What are the conclusions that a recruitment agency tracking you online might reach? Maybe you want companies interested in hiring you to see that you are someone who likes solving problems, researching or sharing information, etc.
Having a good professional online reputation will work in your favor. Keep protecting it. If, however, you have spent all these years posting inappropriate comments, photos or content, don’t sweat it, you can still restore it.
Here are some basic tips to manage your online reputation:
Understand your current online reputation
- Discover what websites the Internet equates with you. Begin with a simple search of Google, Bing or Yahoo for your name. Don’t just look for your first name and last name. Enter your first and last name, the + symbol and the place you study or work at… You can also perform searches on people search engines, like 123people.com or PeekYou.com for more information.
- If, during your search, you discover that your identity has been stolen without your knowledge, report it. It is a crime.
- Remember that in order to prevent identity theft you must keep a good antivirus installed on your PC. Don’t forget this when you surf the Web or interact on social networks.
- If, once you have analyzed the results, you realize that you need to clean up your online reputation, you can request to cancel inactive or inappropriate profiles, delete certain content or hire the services of a company specialized in cleaning up online profiles. Wipe the slate clean as they say.
What to do next:
- Don’t lie. When you are interacting with people online, be honest and never pretend to be someone else.
- Keep your ‘professional’ identity (sites dealing with your professional life) separate from your ‘personal’ identity (sites where you interact with friends, etc in a more relaxed way).
- Pay attention to your privacy settings on the different sites (LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter). Set proper restrictions and permissions. Bear in mind that anything you post on the Internet with public permissions will be immediately made public for everybody to see.
- Take part in social media regularly and create constructive content (blogs, podcasts, videos or photo albums). This will improve your reputation in recruiters’ eyes, as they will see that these contents take planning, creativity and compromise.
- Finally, monitor how often your name is mentioned on the Web. How? You can use free tools like Google Alerts. This tool will send you an email whenever your name is mentioned on the Internet.
I hope you find these tips useful to avoid any nasty surprises with your online reputation :-).