It’s no longer just your resume and references you have to worry about during your job search. You may have a dozen letters that give you a glowing recommendation, but one less than favorable item from a social networking account or Google search could create a roadblock in your job search. With the massive influence of the web, wise job seekers realize the importance of managing their online reputation. In this post, I interview James Alexander, the Chief Executive Officer of Vizibility. Vizibility delivers the first SearchMe™ Button for Google which instantly returns the search results people want to see first.
What is online reputation management?
Online reputation management is the act of monitoring and / or addressing search engine results for your name. Online reputation management can be passive, which is knowing what’s out there about you on search engines like Google. Online reputation management can also be proactive, which can consist of placing content online and making social network contacts to develop an online personality.
There are a number of ways to actively manage your online reputation. For example, you can position yourself as an expert on a topic of interest by posting content on social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter or Quora. You can also add a personal dimension to your online reputation by making connections with others on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.
Personal connections online are an important component of your online reputation. They can help business or social acquaintances discover common connections and change the nature of interactions through an implied reference, which bolsters an online reputation in the same way common friends make new acquaintances seem more familiar and trustworthy.
Why is managing your online reputation important to the job search process?
We live in a Google society. As the saying goes, these days people conduct a Google search before they “hire it, try it, buy it or date it.” More than 85% of recruiters say they conduct a Google search on job candidates, so it’s extremely important for job seekers to manage their online reputations.
What are some examples and consequences of people not managing their online reputation?
Everyone has heard the cautionary tale about candidates being disqualified during a job search due to unflattering photos online. It may be helpful to think of it in terms of the “mother test” – if there’s a photo or information about you online that you wouldn’t want your mother to see, you wouldn’t want a prospective employer to see it either.
But negative consequences can results from less obvious sources. For example, when joining social networks like Facebook, users are asked to list political and religious affiliations, and in the context of Facebook, it may seem harmless enough. But it’s natural for people to form opinions – possibly negative impressions – based on this type of information. Why take the risk?
What are the top 3 things someone can do to ensure their online reputation helps, not hinders their job search?
The first step is to know what’s out there. Google your name and take a close look at the first four pages of results. Secondly, address items that might be misconstrued. Delete and remove tags from photos that may portray you in an unflattering light, and remove references to political or religious affiliations.
Thirdly, stack the deck in your favor by positioning yourself as an expert in your field. You can do this by posting opinions or answering questions on sites like Twitter, Quora, LinkedIn or blogs. It’s not necessary to post every day. But a few well-placed items on highly trafficked sites can quickly build a positive online reputation.
Is making everything private and avoiding the use of pictures a good idea for maintaining privacy online?
There are different schools of thought on this topic. Many recruiters say they wish applicants wouldn’t post photos online because it is difficult for employers to refrain from forming opinions about applicants via photos. On the other hand, images or a video presentation on a topic can be extremely powerful.
On the issue of privacy, it may be a good idea to compartmentalize your online reputation. For example, you could choose to keep your Facebook information locked down and provide access only to close friends and family members while using LinkedIn to form online connections with professional contacts.
Still, it’s important to keep in mind that nothing you put online is ever truly private. This is especially true for high-profile individuals. If it is online, it can always become public, so social media users should proceed with caution and keep the “mother test” in mind.
How does a tool like Vizibility help job seekers manage their online reputation?
Job seekers can proactively manage their online reputations with Vizibility by using products like SearchMeTM buttons, links and QR codes to curate, organize and share their online identities. This allows them to present prospective employers with hand-picked search results in one easy click or scan.
Vizibility’s mobile web app allows users to integrate personal QR codes with sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. This can provide job seekers with the opportunity to discover common connections within a prospective employer’s professional circle, which can create a great first impression.
QR or Quick Response codes are becoming popular in retail stores and with online marketing, how can QR codes be used in a job search?
In addition to providing prospective employers with a mobile-friendly link to a repository of additional information, QR codes have appeal as a novelty and can be a great ice-breaker and personal branding element. By adding a QR code to a résumé or job-seeker business card, job seekers position themselves as tech savvy.
For older job seekers, a QR code can mitigate the effects of age discrimination since the user tends to take on the characteristics associated with the tool in the prospective employer’s mind. QR codes connote attributes such as leadership, fun and forward thinking, which are attributes that are an advantage to job seekers.
Any advice for someone who needs to clean up their online reputation?
It’s important to recognize that some online content can be controlled and some cannot and to tailor your strategy accordingly. For example, if you’re a Facebook user, you can control the content you’ve uploaded, and it may be a good idea to remove photos and tags.
There are other types of content that cannot be removed, including public documents such as a court judgment and articles or reviews with negative content. But there are ways to manage this type of content too – and even turn a negative into a positive.
For example, if your business or professional services are the subject of a negative review or article, you can mitigate the damage by respectfully engaging the reviewer or author. If it’s a bad review from a customer, offer to make it right. By calmly engaging negative reviewers or responding to a negative article with facts, it’s possible to project a positive, professional image.
Still another tactic to mitigate the effect of negative content is a strategy called “suppression,” which involves posting positive content to supplant negative content on the first several pages of the search results. This is another area where posting content on sites like LinkedIn, Quora and Twitter can help. But it’s important to keep in mind that a personal approach to your online reputation is crucial too – who you know is a critical component of your online image, so integrating professional contacts via social media sites can be a great way to improve your stock online.
If there’s something negative out there, that’s been posted by someone else – what can be done to get it removed?
There are online reputation management firms that specialize in assisting clients with removal of negative content. It’s important to remember, though, that not all content can be removed.
James Alexander is the Chief Executive Officer of Vizibility. Vizibility helps professionals control, organize and share their online identities with SearchMe™ buttons, links and QR codes. These can be added quickly and easily to online profiles, bios, email signatures, business cards, resumes and anywhere else someone needs to be visible. As a guy with two first names, James founded the company in 2009 after he discovered he could not be found in Google easily. Google James at http://vizibility.com/james.