Protecting Your Online Reputation Matters
You already know that your reputation, just like a good first impression, is important in personal and professional settings. Protecting your online reputation is increasingly important as you are judged by the results of online searches. This information is often the first or only information that individuals receive about you.
Take a moment and think about the following question, “What is your most embarrassing moment?” More than likely, a very specific memory just popped into your head. If you are like most people, you would not want your your friends, colleagues, or future employers to judge you based on this information… or worse yet only this information. Now think about how you would feel if anyone who cared to could find evidence of this embarrassing information with a few keystrokes. This is the argument for protecting your online reputation.
Personal and Professional Ramifications
While your most embarrassing moment may not be available for the world to see, many other embarrassing or damaging details may reside online. Perhaps you would rather your colleague not see the disparaging comments you posted about them on Facebook or you own a small business and would rather not be overlooked because of one negative review from two years ago.
We all know that hiring managers and HR departments can and do research job candidates online. Depending on what a simple Google search of your name might summon, this could either help or hurt your chances of being called in for an interview. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 43% of employers check out job candidates on social media and half of those employers reported they had chosen not to hire someone based on what they discovered.
It’s not just employers, who are judging your online reputation! A poor online reputation could impact everything from college admissions to prospective dates. This makes protecting your online reputation a top priority.
Tips for Protecting Your Online Reputation
- Utilize platform privacy settings. Virtually every social media site from Instagram to Facebook provides varying levels of account “privacy.” Familiarize yourself with and take advantage of these settings.
- Investigate professional services. A new industry has arisen to assist in protecting your online reputation. Companies like Reputation.com provide services to help users exert their “right to control how they look online.”
- Consider legal action if warranted. If you believe your accounts have been hacked, you can reach out to law enforcement. Additionally, last year’s landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice gives individuals in Europe the “Right to be Forgotten.” This allows people to ask companies like Google to remove outdated or irrelevant information from searches of their names.
- If in doubt, don’t post it! Use your best judgment and err on the side of caution. Regardless of legality or fairness, it is unwise to assume that all of your information will stay private. Bottom line, if you don’t want something to become public… you’re better off not posting it to social media.