As Director of ReputationDefender EMEA, Tony McChrystal heads the world’s leading online reputation management company’s Europe, Middle East and Africa division. This article will delve deeper into the topic of online reputation, exploring how images and material linked to a person online could impact their career prospects.
Whether they seek promotion within their current company or are embarking on a new career, professionals need to pay close attention to their online reputation. With 69% of employers Googling job candidates as part of the screening process according to a 2017 CareerBuilder study, pictures, posts and comments from years ago can have a significant influence on an individual’s job prospects.
In fact, according to the same study, 54% of employers admit declining a candidate based on material linked to that person on social medial. The problem is particularly acute among 16-to-34-year-olds, with 1 in 10 losing out on job opportunities due to their social media activity.
An active presence on social media can be an asset, providing a platform for an individual to demonstrate their expertise and enthusiasm for their chosen field. But does all of this content show them in a positive light? Could something they posted online years ago, or material erroneously linked to them, be detrimental to their professional life?
The first step for someone trying to trace their digital footprint is to log out of their browser so that search results are not influenced by their search history. Adding your city or occupation when Googling yourself is likely to provide the most comprehensive results.
Most people do not look beyond the first page of Google. However, if negative content should crop up there, it could significantly harm a candidate’s job prospects.
Types of material that could greatly diminish a person’s likelihood of being hired include:
- Provocative videos or images
- Confidential information relating to previous employers
- Critical comments about previous employers or former colleagues
- Discriminatory statements about race, religion or gender
- Suggestions of illegal drug taking or alcohol abuse
- Evidence of criminal behaviour
Professionals need to take a proactive approach to online reputation management to ensure their digital footprint is an asset rather than a liability. Sensible precautions include changing privacy settings, removing negative content, addressing inaccuracies, building a positive presence online, and stopping to think each and every time they post on social media.
Long after joining a company, employees are still subjected to scrutiny, with more than half of employers monitoring their employees’ social media posts. An individual Googling themselves may seem vain, but it is a crucial first step in assessing how they may appear to others – particularly potential employers.