Why reputation management matters in your job hunt

Now that the social web has practically consumed nearly everything we do online (and a large chunk of our lives offline), it’s a tad bit alarming that there are still many of us who can’t behave on social networking sites. This is unfortunate, considering that companies today use search engines and social media to conduct background checks on their applicants. So if you’re looking for a job and just happened to have been a bit too liberal and naughty online, you could be killing your chances of getting hired.

While many companies don’t rely on online searches for this purpose, many companies can be very critical when it comes to employment. Those in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry like call centers and providers of tech support and web development solutions usually take hiring seriously. This isn’t exactly surprising since these offshoring firms are dedicated to supply their clients with the most reliable workers.

Reputation management to the rescue

Given the nature of the social web, conducting searches on Google and on social media sites have become the norm among companies to ensure that they only hire the best (and well behaved). This means that negative mentions about you online and incriminating posts could damage your employment opportunities.

This can also be a little unfair to some people as one social slip-up – one incriminating photo on Instagram, one drunk tweet, or one ominous inside joke with a buddy over Facebook – could paint you in a painfully bad light. Even details that are not entirely detrimental to your professional life such as your medical history, past relationships, and affiliations could sway potential employers from hiring you.

To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you during your job hunt, it’s best to employ some reputation management strategies.

What it does

Reputation management is a practice employed by many businesses aimed to cultivate a positive public perception. In order to do this, reputation management specialists influence online information about the business by monitoring mentions and impressions, and ensuring that any negative content related to them are hidden.

Aside from businesses, however, you can also take advantage of this process to ensure that your online reputation is squeaky clean and ready for hiring.

Properly managing your online reputation involves the use of search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, and perhaps even content development. Just how much of these individual processes you’ll need to use relies on the quality of impressions you find online. The more negative impressions there are, the more potent your strategy should be.

How it works

In a nutshell, reputation management involves three main tasks:

Track and monitor mentions online

You start by conducting vanity searches for every mention of your name and any other usernames you’ve used online. Scan through each search result and analyze what the content on each linked page is saying about you. This can be done as often as you want in order to keep tabs on new mentions.

Raise favorable content

It’s important to ensure that all the sites that are relevant to you that carry positive content should appear prominently on the search engine results pages (SERPs). With some SEO know-how, push high ranking sites to the first page— sites that you would want your prospective employers to see. This includes your LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media profiles, personal website, blog, and online portfolio. These sites contain your contact details, and favorable information that can influence employers to consider hiring you.

Bury unwanted content

You can try to have a content with negative impressions about you taken down, but it can still show up especially if Google or Archive.org’s Wayback Machine has already indexed it. Instead, you can bury it so it won’t be easily visible on your vanity searches’ SERPs. This can be done by optimizing existing positive content or producing high quality pieces of content for better visibility.

From here on out: Be careful what you post

Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr have become the treasure trove of anything and everything about you, so always be responsible with what you post.

Keep in mind that anything you put online can easily be accessed by everyone, and they can keep on coming back to haunt you even after years have passed. So don’t share status updates that allude to partying hard every 4/20, post a photo that can be construed as racists or cruel, or say anything you wouldn’t want your potential employers to see.