A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, Favor is better than silver and gold.
– Proverbs 22:21
Looking for a job? I’ve talked to a lot of people like you. I’ve talked with many job seekers whose resumes have crossed my Inbox and desk – and there are many more I haven’t talked to. Why? Because I checked them out online first. When I do, I can assume they won’t be a solid fit for the job I need to fill or the company culture I want to bring them into. Maybe I’ve misjudged, based on things I saw. But…
I am not alone.
Consider this – you can say or do a lot of things in life. But, when something goes online, you may as well say it stays forever. That Facebook rant about your boss? Oops – I just saw that. I’m going to BE your boss if I hire you. That image of you doing whatever it was you should’ve kept offline – that just gave me THE reason to put your resume aside in favor of a more conservative candidate.
That awkward post you made ages ago is probably still be visible to the public – to me, as a prospective employer.. That “interesting” picture of you may be lingering online, ready to be clicked on. Do you know how much of your personal information is easy for anyone to find?
It doesn’t have to be this way. With a little effort and the right security measures, you can take command of how you appear to others online. You can keep your private life private from me – and maybe get that chance for an interview.
1. Google you
Ever do a Google search for someone and get a big surprise at what you found? Do the same for yourself… Then pair your name with previous employers and locations. Check any organizations you are part of as a volunteer or participant. This should turn up pretty much everything said about or by you on social networks and blog sites.
Don’t forget to throw your name into popular people-search sites like PeekYou. Those can dig up dirt that other search engines don’t find. Combine all of this with a manual scan of your Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. Scan for older posts you might have forgotten about that you wouldn’t want others to see.
2. Clean it up
If you find any questionable posts on your social networks, deleting them is usually easy. Just select the post and wait for the delete button to appear. On Facebook, it’s an X. On Twitter, it’s a trash can.
If the post was made by someone else, it’s a little tougher to remove. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though. Send the person who owns the post an email and explain the situation. Never underestimate the power of kindness and asking politely.
3. Promote the positive
Search engines are picky about what content makes it to the top of their pages. It has a lot to do with what content is the most recent and popular. However, Google likes displaying pages that are updated often.
Keep active social media profiles. Try to post once or twice a day on your own profiles, blogs or personal website. Once Google sees how active a user you are, your new positive results will begin to bury any older negative posts that turn up.
It’s not a bad idea to start profiles on less common social media sites as well. Google will push your YouTube and Google+ profiles up because Google owns those sites. Having a LinkedIn account for business networking is a grea
t idea for self-promotion and professional networking. This is especially true if you have a common name. Who knows what those other Jane Smiths and Steve Johnsons are doing online. You don’t want someone to mistake them for you!
4. Keep watch for new bad posts
Cleaning up your online reputation doesn’t do much good if you don’t keep it clean. Be proactive to keep your positive information high and your negative information offline.
Your online reputation is part of you. Keep it reflective of your most positive attributes. Who knows who will be looking for you online? It could be me!