As the saying goes, reputation is everything. Your character is your introduction to the world. And with the internet, it is becoming even more important each day to pay attention to your online presence and monitor your virtual footprint. This may impact your ability to find jobs.
That Facebook post where you were venting years ago? Still there.
That questionable Instagram picture you took with your friends after a night of fun? Yep, there too.
Poorly crafted tweets on Twitter? Found that one as well.
There is nothing more damaging to your career than a poorly maintained online reputation.
You have heard of individuals being let go from their positions because of a Facebook post. People have lost sponsors because of past tweets on Twitter.
Entire professional careers ruined.
You do not have to be an influential personality or a CEO of a company to worry about your online reputation. Potential employers are now checking social media accounts before making any hiring decisions. So, if you have a negative online presence, it can affect your employment prospects.
Here are four ways to successfully manage your reputation online.
Find out what’s out there
If you do not know the problem, you will not be able to fix it. So, start by doing a Google search and reviewing your online presence. Once you have your online history, you can begin to manage it. Do a search using nicknames, usernames that you use on forums and other online platforms, your email addresses and phone numbers. If you are married, do not forget to search using your maiden name. Following the google search, peruse your social media accounts and forums to make sure that you do not have any damaging post or pictures that may still be up. But you are not finished yet. You must also comb through the accounts of your friends and family members to ensure that they do not have any risky posts and images of you on their pages. Your loved ones may mean well, but you both may have different views on how you present yourself online.
Are the results positive? Great, keep it up. Not so much? You now know what you need to do to start cleaning up your online presence.
Post the good stuff
You are going to post online. Therefore, the issue is not about you posting but what you are posting. Hold back the urge to post anything that can be damaging to your reputation. You may think that you are operating anonymously online because you are using a username or maybe you are in a group or forum that is private. Not so fast. Adopt the mindset that nothing on the internet is a secret. If someone wants to use it against you, it will come to light. Do not demean others or post inflammatory comments. The saying, “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” still rings true in the digital world.
Alternatively, showcase your talents and achievements. Follow companies on social media that you are interested in working for and engage them in a meaningful way. LinkedIn is an excellent platform for that. Make connections and provide value to those you meet online. You never know, your next job could come from an online connection. As with anything you can use it for good or bad, choose to use the internet for good and share your professional expertise and creativity with people everywhere.
Supervise what others post on your page
Think it is just what you post online that can cause you harm? What your friends and family members post online can also affect you. Change your privacy settings on all mediums to manage who can post on your pages. For example, on Facebook, you can set your parameters to approve every comment before being displayed on your page. If you do not like a tag or post, you can decline to have it posted.
Act as a mediator in the comment section of posts that you start. Someone may make a negative comment, and because you did not step in to control it, some may perceive that as support from you. With individuals sharing, retweeting, reposting, and taking screenshots of comments and posts, it does not require much for someone to twist a story and present it in a way that you did not intend. You can also set your profiles to private and review everyone before approving friend requests and follows. Consider your online presence and carefully manage privacy settings on all of your social media accounts.
Most importantly, keep in mind that your online image requires constant monitoring. You have done all the work to protect your appearance, do not lose focus now and or let your efforts go to waste. Once you have cleaned up everything, you will still need to periodically review the different social media platforms that you frequent to ensure that you are depicted in a positive light. You can set alerts with Google Alerts to notify you every time your name comes up on the internet. In addition, do not backtrack, from this point on you should always err on the side of caution and pause before you press enter to post anything on the internet.
Using online platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to engage in networking is an effective way to meet potential employers and boost every area of your life. It can even land you a job. For this reason, it is imperative that you assess your online presence and take the necessary steps to ensure that you are putting your best foot forward at all times.
Can you think of other ways online behaviors impact your job search? Leave them in the comments below and let’s keep the conversation going.
Dr. Derrick E. Haynes — YourCareerDoctor
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