Do you know what appears on Google when someone searches for your name? If you’re on the job market, you can be sure the first thing potential employers will do when they receive a résumé is Google the applicant’s name. Today’s job market is as competitive as any in a generation, and employers typically can discover a wealth of information about a person through Googling a name – information which likely would not come out during the interviewing and hiring process.
One observer has remarked, “Google is the new résumé.” With your internet reputation as important as ever, it’s crucial to take steps to ensure your online presence casts you in a favorable light. Online reputation management includes strategies for protecting online reputations and search results, as well as securing and controlling personal information available on social media websites.
Privacy is a major concern for most internet users in this day and age. With or without their knowledge or consent, some form of personal information about almost anyone is accessible to those willing to look for it. Public directories and old news clippings can find their way into search results for an individual’s name, providing known addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, and more. For job seekers, this information is usually innocuous – the real potential for damage stems mostly from personal social media profiles.
Profiles on sites such as Facebook and Twitter can cause a lot of problems for job hunters, especially younger applicants. Questionable pictures, updates, bio sections, blogs, and tweets may not seem particularly inappropriate when only friends can view them. Yet, after Googling an applicant’s name, most employers head to Facebook or Myspace to research the person’s profile. Viewed in this context, unflattering content could mean the difference between being hired and not getting the job.
Users can take relatively easy steps to gain more control over social networking profiles. Privacy settings on Facebook and Twitter can be adjusted to prevent any personal information being disclosed until you allow it to be by approving “follow” or “friend” requests. Both sites have been criticized in the past for loose privacy regulations, but this should not be a major concern for most users, if controls are put in place correctly. Also, if profiles are protected, personal information won’t appear in search engine results for the individual’s name.
Controlling what personal information is accessible to others on the internet can quickly become overwhelming, especially for high profile users. Oftentimes a professional online reputation management service can offer services for monitoring and maintaining public profiles across the internet. In cases of online smear campaigns or the publishing or libelous content, these companies can also identify attackers and work to combat further damage to internet reputations.
When seeking a new job, the most important thing about your online presence is to be aware of the information available about you on the internet. If embarrassing or unflattering things are atop the search results on Google, Bing, or Yahoo!, professional services may be required; however, controlling the privacy of personal profiles is an easy step for users to complete on their own time.
Image credits: top Marcin Robert Balcerzak / Fotolia; bottom geo martinez / Fotolia.