Critical NEW Job Search Skill: Reputation Management or Recovery

WorkCoachCafeThe old Las Vegas marketing line, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” has morphed into “What happens in Vegas, stays in Google (and Bing, et al.).” 

Leading a “perfect” life – very low-profile, never breaking any laws, never participating in any form of social media, never doing anything that might draw negative attention, does not ensure a clean personal reputation in 2012 or beyond, unfortunately. 

Nor, does such a low profile, if achieved, impress recruiters and hiring managers with your knowledge of how social media and the Internet work.  OOPS!  A personal profile that is too low can be a hazard to your job search and also to your career.

So, these days, everyone faces 3 issues, particularly job seekers:

1.  Staying out of trouble. 

Read “You Are Being Watched! And Judged!” for details. 

2.  Monitoring what search engines are associating with your name.

Note that this doesn’t need to be associated with you personally!  Mistaken online identity is more of an issue than many people believe.  

Anything a search engine associates with your name, whether it is you personally or someone else who shares the same name, can be a problem for you because an employer won’t know whether or not the person involved is you.  You can lose out on an opportunity because someone else has “muddied” your name.

Read my article, Defensive Googling (on Job-Hunt.org), for details on how to monitor your name. 

3.  Building a positive online presence.

It is important to be purposeful in creating your online reputation.  And to be active, particularly when you are job hunting. 

This will actually accomplish two goals – managing your reputation, of course, and also demonstrating that you understand how to operate in the current business environment which definitely includes an online element.  It will also help you distance yourself from everyone else who shares the same name.

Considering their impact in Google search results, any of these basic elements could establish your online presence and help you manage your online reputation.  They would also help you recover your reputation if necessary, depending on how many you use. 

  • LinkedIn 
    Your first line of defense is your LinkedIn Profile.  A LinkedIn page is almost always within the first 1 or 2 search results on a Google search results page for a search on almost any name.  So, having an entry for yourself will help distance you from any “doppleganger” who may be negatively impacting your job search.  If you only choose one of the options listed in this post, this is the one to choose. 
  • Google+
    Google+ is gaining in popularity and, particularly, in visibility in Google search results on someone’s names.  Like Facebook, use cautiously.
  • Twitter
    You can build credibility, authority, and gain good Google search results positioning with a solid Twitter account.  Keep it focused on finding and sharing good information on your topic, and you can “meet” some very nice people on Twitter.
  • Facebook
    Facebook is the largest social network, reportedly with over 1 BILLION members.  Do NOT over-share personal information on Facebook. Assume that everything you post on the site will be seen by a recruiter or potential employer at some point in time!  If you have been using Facebook for a while, go through and clean up your posts to remove any of the problematic topics mentioned in “You Are Being Watched! And Judged!
  • Amazon.com
    Amazon has at least 3 separate segments that can be used for reputation building, management, and/or recovery.  Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise doing reviews of products, books, or whatever is relevant to you and to your profession or industry.  Join the  the “Amazon Vine Voices ” program, and receive free stuff from Amazon to review, too!  In addition, you can create a personal Amazon Profile and add a list (or two or more) of your favorite products and/or books in ListMania.  
  • SlideShare.net
    “Professional content sharing platform” SlideShare was one of the original LinkedIn Applications, and it still connects very well into a LinkedIn Profile.  Purchased by LinkedIn.com in 2012, Slideshare provides you with the opportunity to build visibility for your professional knowledge and expertise.  Just be careful not to reveal anything that is confidential to a former – or current – employer.
  • Quora
    Quora is a question and answer website.  If you are an expert in a topic, expertly answer the questions posted on Quora to raise your visibility.  Don’t respond too casually or sloppily.  Bad answers can damage your resputation very visibly rather than enhancing it.  Quora is a good place to learn things, too, so you can remain up-to-date in your field.
  • Yahoo! Answers
    Not quite as “elevated” as Quora, but around much longer, Yahoo! Answers is another place to establish your reputation as an expert. 
  • YouTube
    Owned by Google, YouTube is the world’s 2nd most popular search engine (right after you-know-who).  Create how-to videos in your area of expertise.  If you have created videos, even Camtasia videos of your PowerPoint Presentations, you can publish them on your own YouTube Channel.
  • Vimeo
    More visibility for your videos.  Like YouTube, Vimeo is free for you to post your videos, and they also have an upgrade available.
  • Your own blog
    There are many blog platforms around where you can get started blogging – Tumblr, WordPress.com, WordPress.org, Blogger.com, etc.  Make your knowledge and opinions about your topic visible – very carefully.  Most blogs die or are abandoned eventually, but if you have the writing skill and the determination to write a blog, they can be powerful for increasing your personal visibility and “brand.” When you have a good blog established, carefully consider syndicating some of your posts, through a site like BlogHer.com which helps women bloggers. (Note: BlogHer.com is a WorkCoachCafe.com sponsor)
  • Guest writing
    If you like to write and are an expert in a topic but don’t want to commit to a weekly blog post, consider contributing articles to well-known sites like AOL, BusinessInsider, Forbes Blog, eHow.com, LifeHacker, Mashable, PatchYahoo, and many others. If there is a site you particularly like and visit often, check to see if they accept articles.  Most often, these will be unpaid opportunities. Do be aware that the site’s reputation will color your own, so choose carefully.
  • Write a book
    A long time ago, a speaker encouraged people to write non-fiction books in their areas of expertise by simply saying, “Author. Authority!“  True.  Of course, writing a book is not easy or more of us would do it.  Publish a “real” book or a Kindle ebook sold through Amazon, and you qualify to have an Amazon Author Page.

These are not, unfortunately, set-it-and-forget-it activities with the possible exception of the book (after it is published).  Each will require at least weekly, if not daily, attention.  So, choose the ones that are the most comfortable for you, preferably LinkedIn plus at least one additional element.

Reputation Recovery

If you have a reputation recovery/management issue, choose several items from the list above to dominate the first two or three pages of search results on your name – or push any bad stuff to the third or fourth page of search results.  One of the things Google values is “freshness” so keep adding new information to retain good position in search results.

Annoymity Is Over

We didn’t realize how good we had it in the past – and by “past” I’m talking 5 (and more) years ago.  For the most part, we lived lives of anonymity.  No one, outside of our families, friends, and those we worked for and with paid much attention to us.  And, the reality is, we had MANY fewer ways to embarrass ourselves publicly. 

For More About Online Reputation Management and Repair

You Are Being Watched! And Judged!

Is Your Job Search Too Old Fashioned?

Why You Didn’t Get the Job: 10 Reasons You Can Control

Why Job Hunting Is So Hard, and How You Can Make It Easier

 

© Copyright, 2012, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.

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About the author…

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been  observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then.  Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org.  Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on .

Comments

  1. Young people being so cavalier with their online reputations has become one of my new pet peeves (right up there with bad drivers and TiVo’d shows that get cut off at the end). I try to post something weekly on by FB page regarding the protection on one’s online reputation (http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Resume-Clinic/133613933370270), but to no avail. I guess it is all so new that most people do not fully grasp the impact. But I have a good friend who owns a business to tell me that when they consider calling someone in for an interview, the first thing they do is check their online profiles to see who they REALLY are.

    So if you have dozens of Facebook and Instagram pics of yourself out there topless and beer-bonging and the phone isn’t ringing for interviews, you now know why. Protect and clean up your online profiles as best you can.

  2. tangoecho5 says:

    I get the importance of linkedin. Due to relocating three times to new states, being a homemaker for a decade, etc, I’ve lost touch with most people who might know my work ethic. And certainly noone recent. Even searching linkedin only turned up a few people and I was linked to about 5 people which is so pitiful I was embarassed.

    I don’t want to list every job I’ve had the past 20 years on Linkedin because they make me look flaky. I went where my husbands job took us and had to work with the industries/jobs available where we lived. So I worked in various industries from insurance to hospitality to federal contract work. I also had to change jobs every time we moved which meant some jobs I only had two years before we moved. Anyone looking at that would think I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do or just up and moved when I got bored. You might say, just concentrate on the past ten years. Well that is one job I had for 2 years eight years ago and a new job I just started the spring of 2012. Two jobs in ten years that aren’t even remotely related isn’t exactly a rousing endorsement. So I’d have to go further back which is just more of the same.

    My current job is for the largest company in the world for what we do. I didn’t have a linkedin profile at the time but still got the job. I want to know how to craft a linkedin profile that doesn’t make me look like a flaky job hopper.

    • TangoEcho5,

      Actually, I think your situation can be resolved easily: Create a personalized introductory summary that explains why you have moved so frequently — due to your husband’s military position.

      If you want a short list of sympathetic employers, consider narrowing your search to focus on companies who have been named as “friendly to vets.” Organizations that support the military and who are committed to military hiring may be more willing to pay special attention to your application if you share your situation.

      Good luck,
      Chandlee

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