Time was when we only had to worry about our actual or “analog” reputation. Now we have to keep track of our online reputation. Our online reputation can be the difference between landing a dream job and compromising your entire future. On top of that, your online reputation isn’t just for the job market. How many first dates have said that they Googled your name before they agreed to meet you for coffee? Or how many of you have Googled yourself? The information that you glean from those web searches pulls up the basic outline of a person’s online reputation. There are several important things to keep in mind when it comes to making sure yours is intact and is an accurate representation of you.
Start by searching for yourself. You can begin with a general Google search for your name, but you can dig deeper by searching in Google Alerts and News, Yahoo Alerts, and searching on Twitter and Facebook. This will help you get the lay of the land when it comes to your reputation. Set up a Google or Yahoo alert for your name or Twitter handle. This way you will be alerted every time you are mentioned online.
Privacy is on Your Side
You can tweak your privacy settings on Facebook (for now), Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, etc. to make what you say less visible or virtually invisible to search engines. This way, you can feel more free to express yourself without it ending up in front of your current or potential employer. It’s not too farfetched these days to recommend that you purchase your domain name. Use your personal name as a web domain to ensure that the “real” you is at top of the Google search results, especially if you have an uncommon name.
Whether you have a good, bad, or non-existent online reputation, there are lots of tools that will help you manage it.
Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Photbucket, all trend high on Google Search results. Lies, rumors, and innuendos can harm your online reputation and limit your ability to get a job, or even a promotion at your current job. Employers are getting more and more savvy and if they Google your name and something comes up that could damage the business’s reputation, you could find yourself in a lot of hot water. While yesterday’s newspaper lines todays dust bins, that’s not the same for the internet age. Negative news stories and social media posts have the potential to stay around forever, or at least until Google indexes them off the first page of your search results.
Particularly with all social media, there is also a tool that allows you to track and monitor what you do between each of them. It is relatively new, but can be quite effective for determining much of your social influence and even provides a score you can go by. This service is called Klout. Your ‘klout’ is a number from 1-100 that becomes increasingly harder to rise up. The average person is usually in the 40-50 range if they even keep up with their social media at all.
Paid Reputation Repair Services
There are several online reputation repair services available right now. Some of the most popular include Reputation Defender, Vizibility, and Brand Yourself. As they say on the Reputation Defender website, “The internet is the new first impression.” Apart from increasing your online visibility, it’s important to be able to have some control about what’s being said about you and how your name is portrayed. These services do cost money, though. Reputation Defender clocks in at upwards of $5,000 per year for their “Reputation Defender 5000” package. Their basic package starts at $99 per year, which is much more reasonable. Vizibility doesn’t have any pricing info on their site, but be sure that they will charge you monthly for their ongoing services.
Manage the Message
If you have a negative reputation in your Google results, then the trick is to make sure that your positive reputation results continuously rank higher than your negative mentions. Replace those drunken photos or off the cuff comments with more positive content. If you do happen to find something negative in your online reputation search, you can combat this by posting positive things about yourself for enough time to push out the negative information. It’s even possible to contact those who have posted misleading or untrue things and convince them to remove or change them to more accurately represent the truth.
The Power is in Your Hands
Whether or not you necessarily care about your online reputation, it is important to at least know where your online reputation stands. In this case, you won’t be surprised when you don’t get hired for that new job, or your new date cancels on you at the last minute. Take a serious look at your online reputation and see what it says about you. Chances are that you won’t have one that tops the Google search results, but you may be surprised. If you’re familiar with how you appear to others on the web, whom may be searching for you, you can be empowered to make better choices when it comes to future employment or job advancement.