Our guide will help you to determine what you should be thinking about when building a professional, career-focused social profile, how to find out what's appearing in your social footprint and how to clean your social profile, should you need to.
When it comes to managing your online reputation, what’s the difference between your professional and social profile? For many recruiters (whether agencies or direct employers) there is no real difference and both are ripe for the plucking and a very valid way to accept or reject a potential hire.
You’d be surprised how many employers and recruiters use online searches or social networking sites to screen potential employees. According to recent research carried out in the UK, 77% of recruitment agencies use search engines to screen out candidates, while 25% of hiring managers themselves use search engines to do the same job.
In the US, Internet screening is much more prevalent with 75% of respondents to a survey admitting to having formal policies in place to research applicants online. More alarming is that 70% of those surveyed agreed they had rejected candidates based on the information found. Now more than ever it’s crucial you take control of how you are perceived online and use your online reputation as a force for good. On the plus side, a recent Microsoft survey found that 86% of companies agreed that a positive online reputation influences their perception of an applicant.
In this guide, we provide advice and guidance on how to monitor what is being said about you; how to clean up your online reputation and how social media and the Internet can be a benefit to your career plans.
Why you need an online reputation
If your online activity is limited and you don’t come up in any searches you are missing a key opportunity to promote yourself to potential employers. Whilst not all recruiters are using Google to find out more about candidates, recent research in the UK has shown that 77% of hiring managers do. By actively managing your online reputation this presents an opportunity to reinforce your application and position yourself as an industry professional they need to hire. A professional LinkedIn profile and relevant comments on industry forums will also demonstrate that you are online savvy and are actively contributing to the industry. With a carefully constructed online reputation, it is possible to highlight your key skills and achievements and to build a strong reputation that will make you stand out above and beyond other applicants. Whilst active monitoring is required to ensure your online reputation remains positive, the benefits of creating an active online personal brand far outweigh the potential risks.
Monitoring your online reputation
Whether it is your profile on social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, or comments you’ve posted on a company’s blog or website, everyone has a digital footprint. It is, therefore, essential that you keep track of what people are saying about you and that you know what your name is being associated with – before it costs you that dream job.
As the line between our private and professional lives becomes increasingly blurred it’s essential you are proactive and that you monitor all of your online activity – both personal and professional. You only have to look at the recent examples of individuals losing their jobs after inappropriate comments about their boss/company posted on social networks to see how crucial it is to limit any digital faux pas. The key to successfully monitoring your online reputation is to regularly check for updates and to act quickly to resolve any issues that may come up.
One of the easiest ways to monitor everything that is being said about you and what a potential employer will see is to enter your own name into Google and screen the results. If your Google search returns hits that don’t present you in the best light go back to the original website/source and delete the offending entry. You can also set up a Google Alert which will allow you to receive updates every time something is said about you online, making it easier to actively manage your reputation.
Similarly, run searches across Twitter and other search engines on a regular basis to ensure you have a full understanding of how you are being presented online. You can also sign up for other alerts such as TweetBeep or use other online tools such as MonitorThis.
How to protect your privacy in social media
The first thing you need to do when opening an account in any of the social media channels is to spend some time setting the Privacy Settings of your profile up properly.
Here are some tips to consider in the main social media networks:
- Photo albums - they have their own privacy settings, make them as private as possible (you don’t want your next employer to see the pictures of your last holiday in Vegas). Untag any photos you don’t want to be tagged in.
- Applications - many of the applications you’ve accepted over time are sharing your information with 3rd parties. Try to delete the applications you don’t use.
- Who can find you? You can decide if search engines can find you or not, decide how public your profile needs to be and adjust your Facebook settings accordingly.
- Think about creating groups of friends with different levels of access; you will then be able to accept friendships without risking your privacy.
- Your wall - there is a risk of what your contacts may upload or post on your wall. The best way to manage this risk is to monitor what is being said. If an inappropriate message is posted on your wall delete it as soon as possible or if there is a photo that puts you in a compromising position ask your contact to remove it. Similar guidelines apply for monitoring your LinkedIn account.
- Spend some time deciding how public you would like your profile to be and then set it accordingly. Many people think Twitter is about sharing your posts with every single user in the world, but why would you share your thoughts with people that don’t have your telephone number?
- Be very careful not to share anything in public that can offend communities or cause you trouble while looking for a job.
- If you want to share your tweets with a range of other networking sites that include business and social users, it is wise to create a separate profile for each style so inappropriate posts don’t get revealed in business circles.
- Choose carefully what you want to display on your public profile, by default every visitor can view your full profile. Take this into account.
- Use a picture showing your best professional image.
- If you push your Tweets into LinkedIn using the Tweets LinkedIn app be sure to use a business type of Twitter profile to link to as all tweets are loaded automatically and you can’t pick and choose which comments to show.
In a nutshell, don’t share anything you don’t want to be public knowledge. The best way to keep your privacy is to keep your information private.