Clean Up Your Online Reputation
The Internet has become a wealth of information both important and trivial, collecting our images and words and wrapping them up into a microcosm of our lives online. We document our opinions, our life events, our entertainment, our relationships, even our meals. While friends and family view our comments and photos online and usually take them in context with who they know us to be, complete strangers can see these snippets and judge us solely on what we’ve put out on the web—and those strangers may include potential employers.
Even if you don’t regret the memories or the remarks you’ve made at any other time, the wrong posting could mean a serious hit to your chances of getting hired. An increasing number of employers and recruiters use a quick search to help them weed out candidates. In a competitive job market, that means you need to beat them to the punch and make sure your online reputation is the one you want to project.
So… How Bad Is It?
Take a page out of the employers’ book and search for yourself online, trying variations of your name and location. Dig in at least four or five pages to make sure you catch the stuff most likely to be seen. Also take a look back through any social media profiles, your history of comments on forums, and any blog you might run. Make a note of anything that could tarnish your reflection.
Protect your reputation by being careful of what you post and by signing up for a service like Google Alerts, which will send an email whenever information about you is added or updated online. While that will prove helpful, it might become cumbersome to follow up on every single link. Engaging a service like Reputation Defender from reputation.com will provide you with a detailed search report that covers a variety of online media – for a nominal monthly fee.
Put It Under Cover
Find some things you wish you hadn’t? One way to tidy up after mistakes is to sweep them under the rug, so to speak. Bury anything negative with new and positive material. You can create fresh content about yourself with a blog or website, but that only goes so far. Consider contributing guest content with your byline on industry sites. “Donate” your expertise in professional forums. And consider making your social media profiles private.
What Happens Online, Stays Online – Maybe
Have you heard of the Internet Archive? A non-profit initiative formed to aid historians and researchers, it’s a repository for a great deal of online content. So while it may be possible to request removal from the original site, be aware that it may be recorded elsewhere.
When requesting removal, however strong your case may be, you’ll want to tread carefully. Politely explain your reasons for wanting the material deleted, pointing out if any is libelous, defamatory, or downright wrong. But before you do so, explore the site to get a feel for how they might react. Some more provocative bloggers and site owners have a history of publishing similar emails and letters, only making the situation worse. And search engines won’t even respond.
DDIY – Don’t Do It Yourself
Assuming you have the cash and the need, order yourself a tune-up. Service plans to clean up your reputation online aren’t cheap, but sites like reputation.com, defendmyname.com, and naymz.com employ methods to maneuver the positive to the top of search engines along with other tricks to polish your online presence.
Making and maintaining a good reputation has always been hard work, and the Internet is no exception. When it comes to your career and future, it’s worth the effort to make sure your character is attractive to employers. For more assistance on keeping your Internet presence “career ready,” contact the staffing experts at PsychPros.