THE online you is important – 70 per cent of human resources (HR) professionals have rejected potential candidates because of their online information, according to a Microsoft survey. Or put more positively, 86 per cent said that good online information could work in a candidate’s favour. This makes having a clean reputation on the internet essential for those that want to get on in life. But don’t panic just yet, sorting out your online profile and sprucing it up to make you look attractive to employers is within your control. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you.
KNOW WHAT IS SAID ABOUT YOU
You might think it is narcissistic to spend time googling yourself, but to properly manage your online presence you should do it frequently and thoroughly. Setting up a Google alert on your name can make this easier because every time your name appears, Google will email you a link to the page. Look at the various links that you are offered and consider what someone who doesn’t know you might guess about your character from it. Don’t just use Google, either – use all the different search engines: Google, Bing and Yahoo for a start. Different engines give different – sometimes unexpected – results. Check your Facebook and Twitter privacy settings as well. Are you comfortable with potential employers seeing your photos or knowing what you had for lunch?
IMPROVE WHAT IS THERE
Experts suggest that you should try to craft the image of a coherent whole person online. Someone whose life narrative is easy to piece together. Have a look at all your online profiles. Check they are up to date and consistent. Beefing up the information on these will improve your online image. Using the LinkedIn website is an ideal way to achieve this since it is essentially your online CV. Starting a blog is another way to present your skills and experience. These are available for free from sites such as Blogger and Wordpress.
WASH AWAY THE DIRT
If you have undesirable information about you on the internet that you are unable to change yourself, don’t panic. There are ways to deal with this. Firstly, try the human touch: charm the provider into removing the post. If that isn’t an option or if it fails, you can try to minimise the damage by opening accounts with every networking profile going. These are popular sites and will always appear higher in the search ranking than whatever you wish to hide. Starting a blog has other advantages too, if you regularly update it and learn a few search engine optimisation (SEO) tricks (Google offers guides on this for free). This will push your good information up and all that nasty information further down the rankings. Of course, if the information is untrue, you can always turn to the law. Libel laws apply on the internet and Twitter too. While defamation cases don’t always hold up if the accusing party claims there is justification for their statement, there are other ways around this. Contacting a lawyer is the best way to explore these options.
There is also a website called iCorrect that is often used by celebrities to set the record straight on accusations made against them. In worst-case scenarios, you could use this. But be careful, this could draw more attention to the problem.