Before the Internet, job seekers only had to manage their personal and professional reputations. That meant fostering professional relationships, obtaining impressive references, building their resumes, and basically staying out of trouble.
But now, with the emergence of the colossal cache of data that is easily accessible in cyberspace, a new aspect of a job applicant has emerged: the online reputation.
An individual’s online reputation consists of everything that refers to that person on the Internet — from occupational profiles to social media presences to blog comments and Twitter feeds. And if people aren’t diligent with their online reputation protection, they may find themselves at a disadvantage when trying to land that dream job.
Here are six common obstacles to a positive online reputation.
- Unflattering search engine links. Studies show that 78 percent of human resources professionals and employment recruiters turn to search engines when researching job applicants. So if you Google your name and you see several entries that portray you in a negative light (like reports of run-ins with the law, for instance), you may be turned down for a position because your online reputation provided a bad first impression to potential employers.
- Too much complaining. No company wants to hire a person who seems to complain all the time. But if a review of your social media posts and comments reveals a penchant for grumbling or bellyaching – especially about a current or former employer – companies may not want to make you a part of their team.
- Sharing inappropriate content. Companies have reputations, too, and they leverage these reputations to earn revenues. So the last thing they need is for their employees to do anything to sully these hard-earned reputations. Discovering racy photos, offensive images, or links to inappropriate sites or articles may cause a company to think twice about hiring you.
- Offering “too much information.” Human resources experts recommend that coworkers refrain from discussing politics, religion, and similar controversial topics at work. Now imagine that a firm to which you have applied notices that you frequently post political rants or strongly-worded opinions on these matters. What are the chances of this company awarding you the job over someone who doesn’t have an online reputation that is steeped in controversy?
- Questionable “friends.” You know the old “sticks and stones” adage? Though names will never hurt you, people’s comments about you could hurt your job prospects. When weighing the merits of an applicant, about two out of every five recruiters or HR pros consider unbecoming or unsuitable text or comments about him or her made by job contacts or colleagues. Companies tend to apply another adage in these situations: “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”