Can a Bad Online Reputation Impact Your Job Search?

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Your reputation begins online, and if you want to move your career forward, you’ve got to start by managing your online reputation.

A guest post from K’Lee Banks.

Stack of ResumesThe prevalence of online interactions and virtual footprints raises even greater concern for a person’s online reputation than ever before.

Your reputation for business opportunities during job searches especially comes to light—for good or bad—because of the increasing number of employers who conduct background checks and search online for information about job applicants and prospective employees.

Employers View Online Activities of Potential Employees? GASP!!

In 2012, an incident made headlines about the alleged practice of some employers demanding login and password information from employees to their personal Facebook accounts, so employers could monitor employees’ interactions.

While Facebook administrators condemned this practice as a violation not only of the privacy of account holders, but also of Facebook’s Terms of Service, it is unknown if the practice continues in stealth mode, and to what extent.

The fact that some employers would go that length to monitor employees should raise red flags for people currently involved in job searches.

Yes, many employers are serious about learning all they can about prospective employees on a personal level before even considering them seriously for filling vacancies within businesses.  This means job seekers should exercise caution in what they post anywhere online, whether in blogs or social media such as Facebook and Twitter. The Internet has a LONG memory!

Dangers of Disreputable Online Impressions

A commonly heard mantra addresses having only one chance to make a good first impression.

If a job seeker has already had the misfortune of establishing a bad reputation online, he or she will have difficulty explaining the reason for it if an employer confronts the job seeker with some tidbit discovered during the employer’s online search.

While some content or photos may easily fall under the “I was young and ignorant” category, patterns of ongoing foolish, confrontational, or illegal behavior revealed in Google or other search engine results may indeed quickly place a job seeker on the “blacklist” for potential employment and label him or her as having a bad reputation for business.

Avoid These Costly Online Mistakes

A serious job seeker should conduct his or her own “clean up” before ever filling out that first job application or placing an online inquiry about a position.

For instance, job seekers should remove inappropriate content or photos from blogs, Facebook, or other social media accounts.  In fact, job seekers should adjust privacy settings on social media accounts so only approved family members and friends can view their material.

Online mistakes to avoid include the following:

  • Don’t post overly personal information, or even vehement religious or political comments, in public forums.
  • Don’t assume public records and credit reports are 100 percent accurate; they may contain mistakes, including false accusations, inaccurate details, or even information related to identity confusion or identity theft.
  • Don’t post anywhere online while drunk or otherwise incapacitated.
  • Don’t do anything now that will cause regrettable consequences later, including posting inappropriate pictures or videos, or attacks on other people.

Negative Online Reputation: Repair It Yourself or Call the Pros?

When it comes to repairing one’s negative online reputation, the “do-it-yourself” model is not the best consideration.

While job seekers can take some steps, such as those mentioned about removing inappropriate content or photos from their own blogs or Facebook accounts, other content circulating on the Internet is much more difficult to battle on one’s own.

The best solution to combat a negative reputation for business is to enlist the help of online reputation management professionals who will use their expertise to begin removing or replacing negative online reputation results with a new positive online profile.

Job Seekers Beware

A bad online reputation can prove difficult, or even lethal, to a job search, depending on all the circumstances related to the negative details and the type of job one seeks.

It’s always best to be proactive by not posting anything inappropriate or negative online in the first place, and not giving other people a reason to do so.

If it’s already too late, job seekers will need to clean up their acts now, as well as seek help from online reputation management professionals in order to establish a new positive online reputation for business.

About the Author:

As a prolific freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience,K’Lee Banks has covered a variety of business topics, including business reputation management.  Follow her on twitter at kleebanks

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