Why Your Online Reputation Matters

Your online reputation is one of the most valuable things you own and is as important as your resume.  It is out there representing you—24 hours a day, 7 days a week—and it speaks for you when you aren’t even present.  It acts as your resume, telling potential employers all they need to know.  It serves as your personal matchmaker—offering would-be paramours an insider’s view of your life.  And it often tells resourceful customers whether they want to do business with you.

Even if you your online rep is seemingly perfect, do not be lulled into complacency.  No one is exempt from the need to monitor and maintain a squeaky-clean Internet image.  Even if the web currently depicts you as a modern day Ghandi, it will take dedication and effort to ensure that your reputation remains solid gold.

Here are some tips that will help you foster a desirable online reputation.

1.       Monitor your image closely. 

A nasty post can appear faster than a snowflake falls, so it is important that you Google, Bing, and Yahoo your name often.  You can’t fix something if you are blissfully unaware that it has been broken in the first place.  You should also pay a visit to any review sites that are connected with your industry. You may not know what others are saying about you, but the person that wants to hire you will definitely be interested.

2.       Share selectively. 

You’ve likely encountered the person on Facebook or Twitter who feels compelled to share every detail of her life with her followers.  Perhaps, you have even blocked this person completely.  Don’t be the annoying “friend” that everyone wishes would simply shut up.

Make sure that you only share content that is interesting, informative, and purposeful.  It needs to be worth reading and, ideally, worth passing on.  And avoid complaining.  No one wants to listen to you rant and whine, specially your future boss.

3.       Own your negatives. 

Don’t panic if you find a negative Google review.  No one is perfect—not even the modern day Ghandi.  You will make mistakes.  The important thing is how you handle them.

The best way to respond to negative feedback is to be a consummate professional.  Treat people with respect and apologize immediately.  Make sure you strive to correct the situation in a timely fashion.

Remember that other people will be watching to see how you respond to criticism, so make sure you handle yourself well.  And never delete a negative comment.  This will tell others that you cannot be trusted. The last thing you want is to raise any red flags in the mind of a prospective recruiter.

4. Maintain your privacy. 

Your personal interactions with close friends and relatives need to stay exactly that—personal.  Ensure that the privacy settings on each of your social media tools are set for the maximum protection of your private information.  Block others from being able to tag you in photos, so that you can be sure that party shots won’t wind up public property.  That’s certainly not something you want a potential employer to see.

5.       Join professional organizations. 

Set up sites that highlight your professional expertise and accomplishments like LinkedIn and Google+.  Be sure to use the profile sections of these tools to maximize your online image and impress potential clients and employers.

If you belong to other professional organizations, service clubs, or industry-specific networks, be sure to include these on your profile. The more positive items there are for potential employers to find, the less likely they will find the negative stuff.

While your paper resume is a valuable tool, it pales in comparison to your online reputation.  Everyone who wants to know more about you will seek you out online. Employers do this all the time, before even considering a face-to-face meeting.  You must ensure that what they find is accurate, positive, and most importantly—representative of the real you.

What do you think are some definite “no-no’s,” when it comes to creating a positive online reputation?



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