Online Reputation Management

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.

Social Media: Shouting from the Street Corner

Recently there has been a barrage of political patianship spreading through social media. Spouting political insults on Facebook or Twitter has become today’s equivalent of shouting on the street corner. Hurling accusations along the lines of us versus them only appeals to one side, whereas critical thinking engages the opposition.

The ability to voice differing opinions is part of what makes America great. It’s this idea that every person’s perspective counts that helps define democracy. Opinions should lead to discussion, however. There is not enough discussion today. An intellectual exchange of ideas is fruitful. Change and understanding are the byproducts of it. This takes critical thinking, however.

Critical thinking requires us to question not only the ideas of others, but also the views that seem obviously right to us. Critical thinkers can’t simply dismiss their opponents. They must listen, question and analyze their opponents’ views. Learning and understanding often result.

While there is no shortage of opinions, there are few critical thinkers. Instead there are assaults and counterattacks. It has sparked an ugliness that has become all too common in America and reflects a complete absence of critical thought. Each time a person thinks he or she has a monopoly on the truth and no other viewpoint is valid, there is an absence of critical thought.

There are many who post things on Facebook or Twitter that they never would say. It’s interesting that a feeling of anonymity has extended itself to the world of social media where a personal photo often accompanies the words posted. Still, most won’t confront the poster when partisan comments are made and so it appears as if these rants are either supported or at least tolerated. The worst part is that no discussion follows. The rants may satisfy the poster in the short term, but the critical thinkers in their audience may react very differently than the poster considered.

Social media has great power to unite. Unless people require more of themselves and undertake the work involved in critical thinking, the power of social media will be wasted. Are Americans brave enough to start a discussion?