Keep an Eye on Your Online Reputation – You Have One Whether You Realize This or Not

Are you aware that Hiring Managers are learning about you through your online-presence reputation? Is your online activity conducted in a responsible way that does not smear your professional credentials, education, or personal values? Do you feel comfortable about what they will find if your name is searched on the internet? If you are raising an eyebrow, then it’s likely that you need to read further!

When you are involved as a participant in social media networking outlets such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter, you are creating an online reputation that is easily searchable. It can be a positive additional tool that reinforces your effective communication skills, knowledge base, and overview of your general attitude. But on the flip-side of that, your online reputation could direct others to believe that you are insensitive, indignant, and/or irresponsible. If you were a Hiring Manager, what side would you prefer to see? Just as your real-world reputation matters, so does your virtual online reputation count as being an indicator of the type of employee you currently are or could become.

To be able to fairly judge your own online presence, let’s walk through this list of five online reputation guideposts. Afterward, you’ll be better equipped to evaluate how you are viewed online:

    1. Type your name (in its various forms) into more than one search engine and see what results you find. Read about yourself. What kinds of images are attached to your name? Do you appear to be a positive or a negative person based on your social media comments? Are you helpful to others, or hurtful to others in your posts?
    2. Google-Alert your name so you can be emailed about others who are writing about you or using your image via the internet. While you may think that certain things are in your control because you authored them, others can forward them to others without your knowledge. For example, Facebook has a feature where your friends can “tag” your picture and share with others. Your permission is not needed for this, which means that if your fiend Bill sent a picture of your to his friend Bob, then Bob can “tag” that picture with your name on it and pass it around to Jack, Sara, and who-knows-who-else. Your name can be connected to an unfavorable image and passed along where the distribution grows exponentially: 2 x 2 = 4, 4 x 4 = 16, 16 x 16 = 256, 256 x 256 = 65,536, etc. That’s how “viral” happens. This is a good idea when you want this to occur – but when you don’t, it can become a nightmare! Years from now, you might still be judged by what you did last night when Bill took your picture and… (start reading again from the word “Bill”).
    3. Mention your personal values and beliefs in a way that uplifts others without insulting or offending those who see things differently. Avoid cyber-bullying for your own job-seeking sake!
    4. Be the “authentic you” rather than an imposter. If the online-you speaks Shakespearian, but the in-person-you doesn’t know one fact about Shakespeare, then the phony-you is revealed. Interviewers are very good at pulling back the curtain to see who is really there.

5. Healthy debates are welcomed; but if your online postings ignite agitation and aggression in others, your potential new boss can discern between the occasional playing as the devil’s advocate and unnecessarily causing anxieties.Start from this point forward to be more mindful about how you appear online. Incorporate the things that will present a more polished online presence, and stop doing the things that are damaging your reputation. Hiring Managers are using your online presence as a factor when considering you for employment, so take charge before you are misjudged by what you say and do online.

If you have a concern about your online reputation and need to repair it, there are several tools and services that can empower you to change some of the negative aspects that have become part of the online-you. Go to a web browser and search for help. These two strings of keywords will launch you in the right direction: “online reputation management services,” and “online presence management.”

By Meloney B Hall