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When it comes to your reputation or social profile, there is an old saying that still holds true – “Never do anything that you wouldn’t want to explain to your Mother“. When we are in high school and college, we really don’t give much thought to our profile on the Internet and some of us pay a price for that when we start our job search.
It's safe to assume that all recruiters and company HR departments will do a deep dive on your online profile when applying for a job. Make sure you get there first.Tweet This
It’s bad enough when the stuff you actually did winds up on the Internet. But what happens if bad (wrong) information on you has found its way to the Internet? This could be in the form of Facebook or other social networks. But it could also be in any other form that would show up in an Internet search. Now it almost (and I really want to stress ALMOST) doesn’t matter if the information is true or not.
Fixing False Information
Proving that false information is not true and removing that information from the Internet can be almost impossible. What you can be sure of is that, depending on the severity of the information, it will most likely keep you from getting a job unless you live in the foothills of Appalachia and Internet service is not available (not that there is anything wrong with that, but of course, you wouldn’t be reading this if that were the case). It’s safe to assume that all recruiters and company HR departments will do a deep dive into your online profile.
Now there are lots of ways this “false data” could have been distributed. Maybe you really did something that you shouldn’t have. Or, maybe someone thought you did something that you did not. Or, the worst insult of all, maybe someone has the same name as you and they are the culprit (and somehow this information has been attributed to you). Let me just say that, unlike a cheating partner, you should not be the last to know (as in finding out because you were rejected for a job due to your Internet profile). Checking your Internet profile should be a regular part of your job search (actually, you should be on top of this even if you’re not looking for a job).
So, now we have several things to consider. First, what’s the best way to “check ourselves out” on the Internet and, should we turn up some dirt, how can we improve our profile? Read on.
Check Your Internet Profile
There are many ways to check your background for free. No sense paying to see if you have any outstanding warrants or previous arrests (hopefully you know the answer to this already. So, here are a few steps you can take to both check out your background and stay on top of whatever may lurk on the Internet.
- Google Yourself – Yeah, I know this is the first thing you thought of. But there is more you can do. In addition to running a search on yourself, set up a Google Alert (http://www.google.com/alerts). This will automatically send alerts to you based on the criteria in the alert (and hopefully they are few and far between unless it is good news). Don’t forget to select “images” so you can see what pictures may be posted of you.
- The Effects of Social Media on Your Job Search – This article covers the positive and negative impacts that social media can have on your career (a CareerAlley post).
- What you need to be concerned about:
- Inappropriate photos are posted that show drug use or questionable behavior.
- Any comments that you’ve posted anywhere that might be viewed as racist.
- An email address or a screen name that may be embarrassing.
- Insulting comments posted about friends, coworkers, or companies (especially if you worked there).
- A criminal record.
Improve a Troubled Internet Presence
- Social Media Settings – Your Facebook and Twitter settings should be tweaked so that you know who can see what. For Facebook, look at who can see your stuff. For Twitter, consider protecting your tweets. Also, take a look at your Instagram settings.
- Clean up your Act – Delete any comments that can be considered provocative, racist, or “mean”.
- Repair & Control Your Name or Brand Reputation Online – This book will help you “repair, and control for your personal name, company, brand, product, and any searched phrase that is important to you or your business. Control exactly what displays in the search engines for any name, brand, or entity with a series of secret, battle-tested strategies used by the most elite reputation management experts.
- Manage your online reputation – One more on the topic, from Google.com. Google also provides some information on how how to remove unwanted content from Google (see what the experts say).
- 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation – This book (as the title suggests) will help you improve your reputation. With dozens of examples and actionable tips, Repped demonstrates how a better online reputation can lead to improved job prospects, happier customers, fewer detractors, and most importantly of all, greater income.