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Searching for a Job? Have You Got Your Online Reputation in Order?

As the say­ing goes, most peo­ple con­duct a Google search before they ‘hire it, try it, buy it or date it’. If the saying’s true, then mak­ing sure your house is in order online would be wise before you embark on a search for media jobs.

Over 85 per cent of recruiters admit to con­duct­ing a search online when sift­ing through job appli­cants, and while they would nev­er admit it, it’s a pret­ty safe bet that many appli­cants have been reject­ed at the long-list­ing stage pure­ly because of what was found out about them online.

It’s no longer resumes and ref­er­ences you need to wor­ry about dur­ing a job search and while you may have an abun­dance of let­ters giv­ing you a glow­ing endorse­ment, one less-than-favourable piece of con­tent revealed dur­ing a sim­ple Google search and it could be game over. For exam­ple, while a search may uncov­er a pos­i­tive piece of news or two, it might also dredge up a bank­rupt­cy from 10 years ago, pic­tures from a drunk­en night out or even infor­ma­tion on a sticky divorce.

One female employ­ee who was offered a large redun­dan­cy pack­age revealed her delight on Face­book and was prompt­ly sacked while anoth­er man was the sub­ject of an online hate cam­paign which saw poten­tial employ­ers being told not to hire him. The onslaught meant he was unable to find a job for 12 months and more than $100,000 of his retire­ment fund. As you can see, your online rep­u­ta­tion is seri­ous business.

What is Online Rep­u­ta­tion Management?

This is sim­ply the act of mon­i­tor­ing search engine results for your name. This mon­i­tor­ing, or ‘pas­sive rep­u­ta­tion man­age­ment’, will help you see what comes up when you Google your name and if it’s any­thing unsavoury, action can be taken.

It’s wise to ensure your Face­book pro­file is open only to friends – although prospec­tive employ­ers could always see posts and images on your friends’ pages, and if any images make it out onto the web, it will be vir­tu­al­ly impos­si­ble to erad­i­cate. That said, if any unde­sir­able con­tent is iden­ti­fied else­where on the web, the site should be con­tact­ed with­out delay and a request made to remove the offend­ing mate­r­i­al. It’s also worth remov­ing tags from pic­tures that are any­thing oth­er than squeaky clean.

Proac­tive rep­u­ta­tion man­age­ment occurs when you sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly and inten­tion­al­ly post con­tent that posi­tions you as an expert in your field or as an active expo­nent of your cho­sen indus­try. This activ­i­ty could take the form of blog com­ments, join­ing and inter­act­ing with LinkedIn groups, tweet­ing reg­u­lar­ly and by answer­ing ques­tions and post­ing opin­ions. You can also use proac­tive man­age­ment to ‘sup­press’ neg­a­tive con­tent. By post­ing more pos­i­tive con­tent, the idea is that the neg­a­tive stuff is pushed down the Google search results.

If things have got per­son­al online and your rep is prov­ing dif­fi­cult to man­age alone there are a grow­ing num­ber of organ­i­sa­tions that can help you out when the going gets tough., and even Google’s own ‘Me on the Web’ can help you man­age any neg­a­tiv­i­ty that might be out there and devise a strat­e­gy to counter any poten­tial­ly dam­ag­ing information.

Alan Assante of New Jersey’s Integri­ty Defend­ers explains how his com­pa­ny sup­press­es neg­a­tive data: “We try and pro­mote good infor­ma­tion about you. Whether it’s your accom­plish­ments or good things you’ve done in the past, we use that infor­ma­tion to sup­press the unwant­ed information.”

What else can I do?

If you uncov­er more neg­a­tive mate­r­i­al than you were expect­ing then the chances are there will be some con­tent that either slips through the net or sim­ply will not budge, no mat­ter how much you plead with the site own­er. If emails, proac­tive man­age­ment, chang­ing your pri­va­cy set­tings and sup­pres­sion have failed to work, or if you would like to start off on the right foot, there are still things you can do.

By adding a per­son­alised QR code to your job seek­er cards or let­ters, even your web­site or resume, then you can fun­nel prospec­tive employ­ers to a repos­i­to­ry of hand-picked, pos­i­tive infor­ma­tion. What’s more, for the old­er job­seek­er using a QR code shows they are tech savvy, and any­one using them gives the impres­sion of lead­er­ship, for­ward-think­ing and fun.

Oth­er ways to dis­tract and divert unwant­ed atten­tion and recruiters and pro­tect your rep­u­ta­tion would be to set up more than one email address – after all, the address you had at col­lege might not be appro­pri­ate for the world of work. Addi­tion­al­ly, you might want to con­sid­er using dif­fer­ent user­names for dif­fer­ent web­sites. Most peo­ple use the word(s) before the @ in their email address as their user­name on near­ly every web­site their reg­is­tered with. It wouldn’t take a deter­mined inves­ti­ga­tor long to work out how to get into your eBay account to your social media pages and find infor­ma­tion you would rather stayed hidden.

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