What Everybody Ought to Know About Their Online Reputation
One time or another you’ve Googled yourself in childlike curiosity to see what the wonderful world wide web would render. But more often than not, this turns out to be a rude awakening, when you realize there are certain sites that may not particularly portray you in the best light (i.e. circa MySpace). These days, jobseekers have to tread carefully with every keystroke- your digital footprints are now left for all to see.
According to this infographic put out by marketing firm KBSD, more and more recruiters are utilizing the internet to conduct background searches on candidates. Unflattering photos, offensive comments or tweets will follow you, whether you like it or not. As a proud member of Generation Y, we sit in a precarious place – we were young students when resumes and applications were still being sent out via snail mail. But as we grew, so too did the internet. First we were granted that haven of anonymity that came with the early days of AOL and the crunching and beeping of dial-up modems. Friends with webpages on Angelfire domains were wizards with their spellbinding prowess of (basic) html. Your handle was a way of creating a persona that only the digital world could know. Online you could be “TooCute4u” but the moment you signed off, you were yourself again, to be taken seriously by prospective employers at all times.
While the internet mushroomed and became more readily available to all households, this sacred anonymity was threatened; and with the advent of social networking and more importantly Facebook, anonymity is now a thing of the past. More than ever, with the plethora of information and so many means of accessing it, who we are in the real world, more than likely reflects back on who we are on the internet. With that said, it most crucial to be extremely cognizant of “where” we are in this space. This doesn’t just hold true for individuals, companies are now particularly conscious of their “e-reputations.”
Klout, the most popular of a recent surge of online reputation-ranking services, just recently raised Series C funding to continue its efforts in creating a basis by which users can easily see how a company stacks up when it comes to measuring influence in social media. At this point, it isn’t clear what algorithms Klout bases its rankings on, but it certainly peeves off those who feel their scores aren’t an accurate reflection of their digital influence. The instantaneous and dynamic nature of the internet implies a “web of trust” where you can quickly see how one company measures against another – you buy and you spend according to who does it better.
If companies are concerned about their own social media reputations, we think it timely and imperative that jobseekers do the same. And with these few steps, you can be on your way to keeping a good online reputation:
1) Know “where” you are. First and foremost, Google yourself (both on Web and Images) and see where you are exactly on the Internet. The first step is to eliminate any profiles to websites that could seem questionable in the eyes of an employer. It will be difficult to completely delete any of these because of Google’s cache system, but the least you can do is to deactivate your account or delete your profile/pictures. I will be candid here and tell you that for a brief moment, I thought I could be a model. As in, America’s Next Top Model. This was years ago and when I began my formal job search, I quickly forgot about it. That is, until my media editor approached me one day because a simple search of one of our textbooks somehow rendered my name and my profile on a modeling website. I was embarrassed to say the least and quickly deactivated my account.
2) Monitor your activity. That digital world is so easy to access that it is difficult to unlearn that the internet is not “ours.” What you post, tweet or comment is there for all to see. And consequently, we cannot control what is said about us either. In any case, be respectful of Reddit, Twitter and all other online communities you reside in. Take the time to research on best practice for the communities you regularly engage in. If your name happens to be’ John Smith’ or something quite common, it would be difficult to associated with anything negative. But if you have a name like mine, enforce who you are by posting regularly. The way you respond and the frequency of your activity will build credibility with others.
3) Privacy Settings on Facebook. As recruiters begin to use Facebook to do research on candidates, it is critical to see what is viewable by “public” mode. If your wall is public and you frequently post about how much you hate your boss, you may want to deactivate that feature. Better yet, don’t mention it all. Also, be sure to take down or set a separate list for those pictures you took in Vegas or Cabo. As we are ushered in to world of Facebook Timeline, our lives will become that much more transparent in linear fashion. While Timeline is not mandatory yet, take some time to browse your Facebook history before your profile gets changed over. Perhaps 2007 wasn’t the most flattering year for funemployment? A few minutes cleaning up your Facebook history will go miles in maintaining your social media reputation.