Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

The Basics of Personal Online Reputation Management

Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

The Basics of Personal Online Reputation Management

Article excerpt

Companies and other large (and small) businesses and organizations have monitored their reputations for centuries. In the past, people occasionally became prominent and well-known, but those people (politicians, generals and admirals, actors, singers, etc.) were the exceptions.

Most of us have had the luxury of anonymity for our whole lives, without knowing it was a luxury, particularly if we are over 40. We didn't spend much time and energy worrying about or managing our reputations. We were known to a small circle of people - family, friends, colleagues, and customers and maybe our neighborhood, professional association, local meeting places, and so on. But, the visibility was local.

A landmark study published by Microsoft in 2010, Online Reputation in a Connected World (1) showed two very interesting things:

* "Of U.S. recruiters and HR professionals surveyed, 70 percent say they have rejected candidates based on information they found online."

* "In the United States, 86 percent of human resources professionals surveyed stated that a positive online reputation influences the candidate's application to some extent; almost half stated that it does so to a great extent."

In the past, if we did, wrote, or said something stupid, very few people noticed. Not now! 21st Century Reality: "Google Is Your New Resume"

Famous author Richard N. Bolles, who writes the classic best seller What Color Is Your Parachute? made that statement in 2009. And, as usual, Dick was absolutely right, then, and even more right now.

Dick highlighted something that most of us don't pay much attention to. Time to change that! These keywords should uniquely identify the job seeker in every search of every search engine, or, at a minimum, have the job seeker appear on the first page of search results when this set of keywords is used in a search.

Read the 2016 edition of Dick's book and his article at the beginning of this Journal for his latest views on this topic.

Being Professionally Invisible Online Is Not a Good Strategy

Unless the career requires invisibility (spy, perhaps?), being invisible is like an out-of-date stamp on someone's forehead! Employers use search engines to research job applicants more than 80 percent of the time (1). They are looking for social proof that the job seeker:

* Is who they say they are.

* Has done what they say they have done.

* Would fit into the organization well.

* Understands how to use the Internet for business.

If they don't find that corroboration, they move on to the next candidate.

If nothing is found about the job seeker on a Google - at a minimum - somewhere in the first three pages, this is a problem! Yes, it is better than having photos of the job seeker drunk or smoking pot at a party, but a lack of online visibility brands the job seeker as out-of-date or worse.

Invisibility also makes the job seeker vulnerable to mistaken identity. (Read Your Most Important Keywords for Job Search and Career (2) for details.) Oh, that person who has the same name the job seeker has and stole money from his or her last employer isn't the job seeker? An employer doing a quick Google search would not know that, and, most likely, they would not take the time to find out.

Having no professional presence online is now the classic characteristic of someone who is completely out-of-date, if not completely clueless. Yes, I've spoken with these people, and they think they are protecting their privacy. And they are protecting their privacy to a certain degree, but they are hurting themselves much more in the process because they have no visible, credible professional presence online.

Repair or Push Bad Visibility Down in Search Results

People are often oblivious to their online reputations until something bad happens - speeding ticket, or, worse, a car crash with a failed sobriety test. And the person who has done the "bad deed" may be someone else entirely. …

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