5 Ways to Proactively Protect Your Online Reputation

Job hunters must keep in mind that countless employers and human resources personnel are utilizing the web and, in particular, social networks to get additional information on prospective employees. This growing method of gaining information on applicants has provoked many job seekers to “get off the grid.” But it’s important to note that information gleaned from the web can be what wins you a position as much as it can be what disqualifies you from one. Because of this, aspiring professionals should consider the following when attempting to perform their own online reputation management:

1. Clean Up Your Social Networking Act:

This one is a given, but the ever-evolving nature of social networking has made it more of a meticulous task than merely removing raunchy images or references to dirty deeds. It’s important to always be aware of your privacy settings, as the activity of friends can affect your profile through image tagging and wall posting. Whenever you’re informed of “updates” by-way-of an automatic email from your preferred social network, examine privacy settings for signs of change. You may not be aware of it, but updates could include reformatting of such settings and introducing new options that are defaulted to whatever the social network decides.

2. Expand Your Social Networking Act:

Becoming a listed member of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and now Google+ does more than just make you look like a go-getter, it means that so long as you keep these accounts relatively active you help eliminate the possibility of undesirable uncontrolled information about you from making its way to the top of a Google search. These sites are such incredibly popular results that they’ll always sit at the top. That way any unauthorized content related to you, if in existence, is less likely to make an appearance to a possible employer.

3. Buy Your Own Website:

If you have a popular name like Robert Smith this one might be impossible, but acquiring a resume website is a great way to influence your online reputation massively in one single step. Buying the domain of your full name allows you to make that URL the destination of your online resume and additional personal information you wish to disclose to the public and potential employers. It also keeps someone else from buying it and making your name associated with who-knows-what.

4. Perform a Positive Google Bomb:

It’s a primitive measure, but if you have some time to kill, simply do repeat Google searches of your own name with added words that highlight achievements. This is especially effective if these searches lead to information about achievements you otherwise wouldn’t put on a resume for the sake of space. Athletic achievements are a good example of such facts that are good to lead employers to.

5. Send Employers to These Sites Yourself:

Employers might still go ahead and do their own search engine snooping but a good way to curb the intensity of their research is to go ahead and provide them with links to these sites through your resume or cover letter. You want to show you have an established online presence you’re happy to share. It’s also an easy way to look confident when making a first impression.

Employers and human resource personnel expect potential employees to exist online. Your mission is as much to present your Internet image as ideally as possible as it is to protect it from negativity. Don’t fear Facebook and other social sites, but instead, utilize them to increase the odds of getting hired. It requires the proper balance of activity and alertness, but there’s nothing about managing an online reputation that’s outside the realm of possibility of those eager to get hired.

Related: How to Protect Your Online Personal Brand.

By Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO of Link Humans, home of The Employer Brand Index.