Managing your reputation on the internet is something that is often overlooked, and not always easy to take control of. According to research, 26% of hiring managers say they have used search engines to research potential employees, and one in 10 has looked on a social networking website. You put yourself at risk by leaving any personal information online as much of it is cached and remains available via search engines, even after the author has removed the web page. So writing that heartfelt blog after being dumped may have given you “closure” but now the whole world knows about it and you can’t erase it. So keep your online nose clean with these tips.
1. Keep on top of what’s out there. Regularly Google yourself and search your name on websites like pipl.com to check on the status of your reputation. If there is anything derogatory then do something about it.
2. Keep your Facebook, Twitter and other profiles private. All social networking accounts have privacy settings, so use them. You don’t want your prospective employer to know too much about your family, friends or weekend antics!
3. Stay anonymous. If you want a Twitter account that is public, so you can get those all-important re-tweets, use a pseudonym or make sure it’s not easily findable by searching your name. That way, you are free to show the lighter side of your life, and prospective employers will be none the wiser.
4. Set up your own website. This gives you a lot more control over what people see when they Google you, plus it also shows you are taking a proactive role online. You can also create personal areas that stay private for your social life and public areas that can be seen by potential employers.
5. Request removal. It is time consuming, but trawl through any old data about you and get rid of it if, unless it is a stunning reference to your perfect existence of course! Previous work places and other organisations you have worked at may still hold information about you, blogs or articles you have written in the past or (dread of dreads) images and videos may still be out there. Contact previous employers and the web managers to request removal.
6. Hire an expert to clean up your profile. If removal is proving difficult then you may need to call in an expert, for a fee companies will produce monthly reports on your online identities and you can request the removal of any material on the report.
7. Bear in mind who may be searching you. Remember, it’s not just potential employers who could be using search engines to find out information about you (as a potential employee) it may also be potential clients. So even if you are not looking for a new job it’s worth assessing your internet presence.
8. Create a business profile. Join LinkedIn – it’s a great tool for networking with your peers and allows you to talk about yourself, link to your content, and communicate with potential employers.
9. Stay anonymous. The internet is perfectly set up for anonymity and that doesn’t mean you’ve become an internet ‘dweeb’, it means you have become internet savvy. In fact, in ten years’ time people will probably be shocked about how much true information our generation were willing to put on the web. Keep pictures to a minimum and use other names. This is a good idea, not just in terms of finding a job, but also avoiding identity theft.
10. Prevention is the best cure. The best way to maintain a good net rep is to keep it clean in the first place, so just think carefully what you put out there.
“Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” - Andy Warhol