When I first heard of an online reputation management expert, I laughed. Now I understand the need for safeguarding one’s online reputation. If a stranger were to read your blog, Facebook page, Twitter posts or view your LinkedIn connections, what 30 second impression would they form about you?
While it may have seemed like a good idea at the time to post about your lack of motivation days and months on end or your failure to complete those projects you had planned, a potential employer or possible date might find this cause to form less than a positive impression about you.
People are looking and forming judgments. Many HR professionals screen applicants by doing a quick Google search before even calling them to schedule an interview. A 2008 survey by Execunet found that 86% of recruiters use search engines to find out more about job applicants. Even more alarming and not all that shocking, 44% said they didn’t hire someone based upon what they found out online. A popular dating service, It’s Just Lunch found 63% of singles Googled someone before they went out on a first date.
It’s smart really. Who can blame companies for doing some type of check? Fewer still would fault the single person before taking the risk of meeting someone for that first date?
The internet is two things: it is permanent and no one polices it. So what do you do if you haven’t always been mindful of the things you’ve posted? Do a search on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn- as well as a Google search to see what’s been written about you and those with names similar to your own. Some have termed this Ecosurfing. Next, clean up your online profile by deleting objectionable content and ask friends to do the same. Make sure to check your privacy settings on all the social media sites you use.
In the future, be cautious when posting anything online. You may find that you simply need to reduce your exposure—don’t rant online. Anything you do online lasts forever and you never know who is reading.