Cleaning Up Your Online Reputation

When meeting a new person, taking a class from a new teacher, or wanting to know more about someone you’ve met in a professional development session, have you ever looked them up online?

Hiring managers do.  In fact, looking up candidates online and reviewing their social media profiles has become one of the first steps many hiring managers take when paring down a pool of candidates for interviews or job offers.  When you’re applying for a job, having a professional social media presence is essential.

Here are ways to clean up your online reputation and present yourself professionally on the Web:

Step 1.  Do a damage assessment.

The first step in cleaning up your online reputation is knowing what is out there.  Run your name through several popular search engines, including Google, Bing, and Yahoo.  If anything troubling appears in the first four or five pages of results, mark it for action.

Step 2.  Bury the bad under the good.

If your name is attached to anything troubling, you can start to “bury” the search result by creating new content about yourself, like a blog or Web site.  Also, consider contacting industry publications or websites and offering to write guest posts or articles – under your own byline, of course – for publication on their sites.

Although creating new content doesn’t delete old content, it does create more recent and more relevant search results for your name.  This pushes older stuff further back into the search engine results, making it more likely that hiring managers will stop browsing before they reach it.

Step 3.  Request that bad material be removed.

In some cases, you may be able to request that items about yourself that you don’t want seen are removed from the websites on which they are hosted.  E-mail the host and explain that you want the material removed because it portrays you in an unprofessional light.  Then, ask the owner or manager of the site to remove the material.  Start with a respectful, reasonable tone; if you demand or order that the material be removed, the website administrator may respond negatively.

Remember that, while you can ask for things to be taken down from their current host sites, two hurdles remain.  First, it may take up to six months for search engines to update their results.  Second, internet archives like the Wayback Machine may keep archived copies of the material, even after it has been taken down.

At THE RIGHT STAFF, LLC, our experienced recruiters can help you present yourself in your best possible light – both online and in person.  To learn more, contact us today!

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