When was the last time you Googled your name? This is an advisable step if you start a job search any time soon. What comes up when you Google yourself is also what potential employers will see when they search for you.
As you look through the search results, think about what you see from the perspective of someone researching job candidates. Do you look like a professional worth hiring? Make sure your online reputation fits your current and future goals as a professional. Doing so involves personal online reputation management.
Online reputation management refers to managing a brand or individual’s image based on their online presence. It accounts for everything the person or brand says online, as well as the things said about them. Personal online reputation management ensures your online presence conveys the right message.
When a potential employer considers you a possible new hire, it takes just a few minutes to Google your name. Suppose something undesirable appears high in the search engine results and your qualifications are similar to another applicant’s. In that case, the employer will likely view the other candidate more favorably than you, dropping your resume further down the list.
With the straightforward nature of putting information online, someone could spread inaccurate information about you online. Also, outdated information, such as an old email address, could make your resume look suspect, even if you include the most up-to-date information on your job application. You may even find someone else with your exact name with an entirely different online image, which could impact your applications.
Finally, your social media profiles may appear when someone searches for your name. There may be items from your past, such as your high school or early college years, that you do not want a potential employer to see. If you search for your name, you will see which social media profiles do not have their security settings locked down, and you can tighten these up.
How can you establish a positive online reputation, whether yours is tarnished or you are starting from scratch? There are several steps you can take to polish your online presence. Before you start, take some time to think about what you want your image to be. What would align with your potential career search? Do you need to appear laid back and fun, or is a highly professional image preferable in your line of work? Once you answer this question, the real work begins.
First, let’s start with your LinkedIn profile. It will be the first place an employer will look for your professional information. Make sure your profile picture on LinkedIn matches your profile picture on other social media pages, so potential employers know which Facebook page belongs to you.
After you are done with LinkedIn, claim your personal pages on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. While you may not think you need to post to these platforms if you do not claim your name, someone else with the same name might, which could hurt your online reputation. Once you have these pages, build them with professional information.
If you post something on Facebook or Twitter, make sure it is something you would be comfortable with a potential employer seeing. Being overly political or divisive could cast you in a negative light should someone Google your name. Always think carefully before you post or engage with others on these platforms.
Consider starting a blog. Blogging can help establish you as an expert in your chosen field and push your name to the top of the search engine results when someone Googles you. You can also positively impact your field by sharing information and knowledge on your blog.
Set up an alert to manage your name. Hootsuite and Mention can send you notifications if someone mentions you. If you find mentions, check to ensure they line up with the image you created online.
Finally, be careful about your images. Your potential employers might find them even if they are on your personal page. The pictures of you at the party last weekend or lounging on the beach in your swimsuit on your previous vacation may not align with your personal brand, so be mindful.
The nature of the internet means that no matter how careful you are, you may end up with a negative item posted about you or connected to you. When this happens, see if you can have the negative item removed, especially if it is untrue or if you posted it yourself earlier before determining your personal branding goals. If you cannot do this, post items that will reflect well. Post items that will get pushed to the top of the search engines and move the negative item down lower.
For example, respond truthfully but professionally if someone posts something negative about you on your social media page. A potential employer that comes across this will see that you know how to handle difficult people, which will reflect positively on you in the future. Then, create a blog or social network post to effectively bury the negative item. This two-fold approach will allow you to move past it with minimal damage to your online reputation.
Your online reputation is something you need to be proactive to protect. Once something is out there in cyberspace, it’s nearly impossible to remove. Even now, while pursuing your degree or thinking about college, ensure you protect your image on your favorite social networks. Your future self will be glad you did when you start looking for work.
As you consider building your professional image online, get the right education credentials behind your name. For medical professions, reach out to The College of Health Care Professions to learn more about our exceptional degree programs. Managing online reputation information is important, and it starts with providing the correct information to search engines.