Many savvy job hunters spend a fair amount of time online gathering information on prospective hiring companies. Scouring the Internet is often the first step taken to gain insight on the business itself as well as to prepare for an upcoming interview. Still, many applicants don’t realize that hiring managers and recruiters also use the Internet during the hiring process. However, unlike candidates who use online searches to gather helpful data about what a company does, executives in charge of the job offer process are actually doing a little digital digging to find out who a person is…and they are using these personal and professional details about candidates to influence their final decision.
Unfortunately for some would-be employees, what’s discovered about them online is actually costing them the job. A recent study by ExecuNet showed that 90% of executive recruiters perform online research on potential candidates. Further, the same study noted that 70% of employers who use online resources have actually decided not to hire a candidate based on what online results revealed. These facts confirm that, for many companies, Googling applicants is actually an integrated part of its recruiting best practices. Today’s employers are using the Internet to redefine what it means to be a good candidate – and in their eyes, a good candidate isn’t just talented, but also has a good reputation online.
What does this mean for your job search? Ultimately, your chance to make a great first impression may not start with the initial interview. Instead, how future employers perceive you may actually begin with your existing digital footprint. According to the ExecNet data, most recruiters focus on a few specific online entities to not only piece together their perception of who you are, but also unearth possible hiring “red flags” as well. The ExecNet data shows that, having a criminal record, posting inappropriate/illegal Facebook pictures and comments, tweeting about management style at your current job, and online credentials not lining up with your resume are all factors that could impact employment.
Whether you’re just beginning your job search, or have been unsuccessfully hunting for an extended period of time, it’s critical to get a handle on your current online reputation to understand you may be perceived by hiring companies. Even if you currently have a few (or several…or even all) noted online red flags in your online past, you can proactively begin to change a searcher’s perspective on you. Following a few tips can help you gauge where you’re at, as well as put together a plan to get you where you need to be.
Start by running searches on your name (and variations of your name) to see what potential managers see when looking you up. Run individual searches on each of the major engines (Google, Yahoo, and Bing) because each browser may pull different results. Most people never scroll past page two of a Google search, so evaluate the pages and links on those first few pages to get an idea what your current digital footprint conveys. Remember, just ensuring nothing negative or unseemly pops up isn’t enough; it’s also important to ensure professional pages, such as LinkedIn, top the list of sources people find for you.
The good news – it’s never too late to start proactively managing your online reputation. It all starts with a consistent online feed of honest, positive, and uplifting content. Flooding online resources with favorable posts is the best way to take charge of those first two pages of search results and suppress any negative links associated with you to page three and beyond. Use your social media pages to your advantage. Stop using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to tell followers how much you hate your current job, or as a means for posting weekend party pics. Instead, shine a light on some of the things that will resonate with employers. Post away about your time volunteering at your local animal shelter, that course you recently completed, or the award you just received. You should also make LinkedIn your primary social media focus. Begin publishing industry relevant blogs on LinkedIn often to further solidify your professional status with recruiters.
Also, if you have a personal website, now is the perfect time to update existing content, both on the site as well as your blog, to reflect any new accomplishments and announcements. Don’t have a personal website? It’s time to create one. Begin the process by purchasing your own name as a website domain. Having control of your name provides an excellent forum to publish positive content and effectively suppress less favorable links and posts.
Remember, managing your personal digital reputation is a marathon, not a sprint. Set up Google alerts on yourself so you instantly know when your name is being digitally bandied about. As soon as something is posted about you, you will be notified so you can see if it’s something you want to promote or suppress. Using Google alerts, consistently running online searches on yourself, and monitoring your social media pages for posts that may shine an unfavorable light on your image are all effective ways to proactively monitor the status of your online identity, help you stand apart from other candidates swimming in the talent pool, and ultimately help you land the job.
Are you struggling with your personal online reputation? We can help. Contact the team at Repair Bad Reputation for more information today.