Given how tough the job market is these days, those looking for work need every advantage in their corner.
With that being the case, what happens to the job seeker that has negative information about them floating around the Internet? Do they hope that the content just magically disappears or do they take action to make it become less relevant?
As job searchers are discovering in today’s Internet age, there is no margin for error when it comes to the hunt for work. With countless people applying for literally each and every job out there, one must make sure that their image is as pristine as possible.
If you have some doubts as to what your online image may be saying about you as you currently or prepare to look for work, keep a few of these things in mind:
1. Image is everything – For the majority of businesses, hiring the right fit into their company culture is very important. While you will get some companies that just want a warm body to fill the role, many companies take the opposite approach, looking for the right individual that will not disrupt the chemistry already in place. So, what happens when someone is reviewing your job application and they come across an interesting tidbit online about you? Do you figure they will just brush it under the rug or they will investigate? Nine times out of 10, it will be the latter, meaning your ability to get a job with that company could be in peril;
2. Can I clean up my image? – If you have an online image problem, don’t automatically exclude yourself from applying for a variety of jobs. Should you feel you can’t fix the online image problem, there are companies out there situated to do just that. A number of companies offer customers internet reputation management monitoring, allow the individual to keep tabs on content and/or images related to them on the web. Such companies will not only monitor what is being said about you online, but they can help to restore a positive image through different avenues (see below), allowing you to not sweat all the time when a potential employer turns to the web to investigate you;
3. How to fix my online image – In order to repair any damages to your online reputation, the first step is to zero in on the exact problem. Once that is done, work with your online reputation management expert to promote the positive in your work experience. Sometimes it can be something as simple as an inappropriate image you had forgotten about or a comment made by a former friend, that has landed you in the online trouble jail. At that point, the goal is to push more positive news regarding you and your business record to the top of search engines. When that happens, the more negative stuff will take a lower ranking position;
4. Practice makes perfect – If you want to avoid a big mess in the first place, make sure you Google your name and search what content/photos are out on the web in the first place. You may be about to graduate from school and you forgot about that image from a frat party that got a little out of hand. Next thing you know, it is on the web and circulating faster than you would like. Another potential landmine is you made an off the cuff remark and it found its way onto a social media venue. A potential employer sees the remark and does not believe you would be a good fit for that company’s culture. As you can see, something rather innocent can turn into a ticking time bomb in your job hunt. Do as much “web cleaning” as you can before the first resume and application goes out in order to lessen the chances of being negatively impacted;
5. Think before you speak – Long before the Internet arrived on the scene, how people applied for jobs was much different. One essentially was judged on their prior schooling or work record, their experience, and how they came across during an interview. With the advent of the Internet and especially social media, the game changed forever. As many applicants found out over time, even the slightest of online mistakes could spell doom in their job search. Having a LinkedIn account in today’s age is also most essential for both employees and those looking for work. If you have Facebook and Twitter accounts also, make sure you periodically check them so that there is no hint of offensive comments or imagery. While a potential employer may not conduct an online background check before bringing you in for an interview, are you willing to take that chance?
With no end in sight to the incredible volume of information that presents itself on the Internet, practice makes perfect when it comes to how you conduct yourself online.