What is the Internet Saying About You?

Most marketing professionals as well as corporate leaders understand how a poor online reputation can damage their company’s sales. In fact, a poor online reputation can drive customers away thus causing a loss in sales. It can prevent you from hiring top talent and it can turn away investors. Marketing professionals also know that it is very expensive and very difficult, if not impossible, to rectify a bad online reputation after the damage is done. Therefore, most leaders today are paying a lot more attention to this issue and in fact, monitor and aggressively manage their online presence.

The same can’t be said for candidates. In fact, very few actually think about their online presence. Instead, through their social media sites, they brag about their weekends, what they ate, what they drank and who attended their weekend party. They fill the sites with vacation photos, pet photos and photos of their loved ones. Before we know it, we are aware of where they went to school, where they currently work as well as their previous employment. They share their likes and dislikes, make comments about teachers, their boss, their physician and their neighbor.  Every page is similar peeling off an onion skin….deeper and deeper we go into their life as they continue to reveal personal information.  Reputation management is far from their minds.

Yet, they are indeed creating an online reputation. They are creating a persona, and a social media personality, a public image for everyone to see. Each and every one of your postings speak volumes about you. Viewers will quickly gain an impression of your personality, how you fit into a team environment, and/or whether or not you have a positive attitude toward life.  You are teaching your viewers how you think and so they will make an assumption about who you are and what you are like. In fact, in today’s world, your internet image defines you.

Just as a corporation’s online reputation can cause lost sales, an individual’s online reputation can not only cost you a great job opportunity, it can shape your career. And this doesn’t just apply to the local job market; an online reputation is universal and worldwide. Anything and everything you say will be spread over the internet in 30 seconds.

And don’t think for a minute that recruiters and employers are not looking at your online reputation. They are doing exactly that, both before you are hired and after. Just look at the most recent examples that have hit the news over the past few weeks. For instance, Ray Rice, now a former Baltimore Ravens running back football player was suspended indefinitely following the release of a video that showed him hitting his then fiancé. Desmond "Des" Hague, head of a Centerplate (a food vendor at various sports stadiums) was forced to resign when a video went viral that showed him kicking and abusing a dog. And, it wasn’t long ago that two local teachers lost their jobs when a video of them performing a raunchy lap dance in front of high school students went viral. Each of these incidents became an overnight internet sensation. Everyone lost their job. Everyone lost their reputation.

In spite of the fact you may have a job, you are really a “perpetual’ candidate. In other words, poor behavior at any time may cause you to lose your current job. Therefore, it is important to commit yourself to ensuring you have a positive online reputation. Start by only posting photographs of yourself that you're comfortable sharing with the world. Consider writing a weekly blog that provides compelling information that highlights your skills and portrays you in a positive light.

Finally, conduct regular searches of your name so that you can quickly locate any new and harmful posts. Keep in mind that your friends and colleagues may well post something about you, so be sure to make them aware of your posting rules. Be vigilant and remove any threats immediately.

And finally, remember that executive search professionals and business leaders will be searching out your identity on the internet. Make it easy for them to like what they see.

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