Reputation management is just as important for individuals as for companies. As a private individual, you have a personal reputation based on how your friends and family see you, but what about strangers? When you apply for a job or make a new business contact people will judge you based on what they find online and they’ll begin to form an opinion before they even meet you.
According to Huffington post, 80 percent of employers run a Google search before inviting a candidate to interview. If they don’t find anything that shows you might be a good fit for the company, they’ll move on to someone else’s file and you’ll likely never hear from them. On the other hand, if they find negative content, it could be even worse. Ninety-two percent of people say unflattering material found online impacts their perception of a candidate or any business contact. Companies have their own reputations to worry about and HR recruiters don’t want to risk hiring someone who could attract bad publicity.
The Search Engine Result Page (SERP) is the internet version of a business card. This is the first thing professional contacts will see and if it doesn’t pique interest, it will likely turn out to be the last as well. Reputation Defender’s professional services help individuals build a positive online profile. This is an increasingly important part of a successful career. Without ORM, it’s likely your personal search page is a collection of random irrelevant results with a few posts from friends that don’t portray you in a very professional light. Is that really what you want your next employer to see?
Build a Better Profile
- Find Out What’s Out There – Before you begin work on building an online reputation, you’ll first need to get an idea of what you’re up against. This starts with a simple Google search of your name, or any form of your name you think a business contact might enter, such as shortened forms, misspellings or nicknames you’ve used at work. Sign out of all your accounts first so you don’t receive a personalised SERP. It’s likely you will pull up some results that make you uncomfortable, an embarrassing post from when you were a teenager for example, or something a friend shared as a joke. Even Mum’s baby pictures of you on Facebook aren’t going to look good on your professional resume, an increasing problem for millennials who grew up on social media.
- Take it Down – Don’t let this material upset you. Most people have some undesirable content online. It’s not a sign you’ve done anything wrong, just that you need to start creating and promoting better content. Many of these results may be removable if they were posted by you or someone you know. Start by deleting old accounts and posts that are no longer relevant. Un-tag yourself from pictures that are unflattering or unprofessional. If this doesn’t work, contact the person and ask them to remove it. Most people will understand and comply even if they don’t know you that well. If they don’t, try contacting the site hosting the information. You have the legal right to remove material that is defamatory or infringes on copyright (someone sharing a picture you took for example).
- Create Better Content – Not every negative result is removable, but you can make this content less damaging by pushing it off of page one. Most people won’t look past the first page of the SERPs, so this is where you need to dominate with your own positive professional content. Just like a business, you need to create your own personal brand. Build a website where potential employees and business contacts can learn about your career and achievements. Make sure there is a clear ‘about’ section with a detailed bio that matches your resume. List any awards or recognitions you’ve received, with links to independent pages that verify what you’re saying wherever possible. It’s important to promote yourself, but don’t make claims that are overly exaggerated or untrue. This will only hurt you in the end.
- Become a Blogger – Start blogging on industry related topics so you begin to build authority in your field. Recruiters want to see you’re an expert at what you do and that you have new, innovative ideas which could help move the company forward. It’s also important to create a personal connection with your followers. Write about what motivates you, why you chose this career and why you love your job. Inspirational content, including posts about professional role models or people you look up to can help to build interest and make your writing more genuine.
- Leverage Social Media – Professional social media pages are one of the best ways dominate page one. This starts with LinkedIn, of course, but a professional profile on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms relevant to your field are also important. Keep these profiles up-to-date so that they match your resume and use them to share all the other content you create. If you don’t have the time to keep every profile active, make sure there is a clear link to your website so contacts know where to find you. If you use social media a lot, try to separate your personal and professional activity. Use a different account for personal posts; make sure it’s set to private or friends only, and don’t mix friend and work contacts. For further protection, consider putting your personal account under an alias only close friends would know.
- Monitor Personal Mentions – Set up a Google alert for your name and any other keywords you think a professional contact might use. This will let you know immediately when something negative is posted about you, so you can get it taken down, un-tag yourself, or write a professional response that minimises the damage. As you build content, you’re likely to attract some negative and unflattering responses in the comment section. Welcome all feedback as constructive criticism and respond professionally. Never let yourself be drawn into an angry dialogue.
Contact our reputation specialists at ReputationDefender to learn more about building an online profile, or download your personal guide here.