We live in a digital era and there is no denying how much time we spend online daily. These days, there is hardly anything you can’t do online. You can catch up with old friends, buy clothing, order dinner, consult a medical expert, and even meet your future spouse. The convenience of it all is just remarkable.
However, the internet is a double-edged sword. As much as we go online to find what we need and to socialise, employers and recruiters go online to headhunt or vet potential candidates. It is therefore critical that we watch what we post, like or comment on. One wrong post or comment can ruin your professional reputation and cost you future opportunities.
ENCA posted this video in 2019 online titled Social media could cost you a job, it addresses how the Public Sector in South Africa is planning to use social media to vet prospective candidates. The truth is, the Private Sector has been doing this for years. LinkedIn is the first place employers will look you up but it is not the only place, some employers choose to dig a little deeper to make sure they hire wholesome candidates.
Understanding Search Engines
A search engine is a program like Google or Bing, they use algorithms to search databases and websites across the world for the specified keyword. Meaning if you were to search for your name on a search engine it will use its algorithms to search for relevant and recent information about you.
Let’s say you have a social media page that you visit every day and even share some posts, this social page will likely appear first when your name is searched. But, if you have articles written about you on other websites such as Wikipedia or major news websites then these pages will appear first.
What is great for search engines is if you have a personal website that is dedicated only to share information about you and using your name as a domain. Such a website if correctly constructed will appear top of all search results and this is the ultimate way to build and protect your online reputation.
Apart from owning a personal career website, Here are some tips to protect your online reputation
- Be selective about who you connect with on social media, you do not want to be associated with nasty characters.
- Protect your privacy, check your security settings. Consider limiting access to platforms like Facebook to your friends and family.
- Think before you post. It may seem like a good idea to vent online in the heat of the moment, but this may paint you in a very negative light to prospective employers. Your character will be judged and how you address situations can make or break you.
- It’s ok to rant and share your opionions but, be careful not to use offesive language, rather post positive and relevant content that will help boost your career and personal branding.
- Be mindful of how you portray yourself, stay away from slander and negativity. What you post can follow you for the rest of your life. Keep your online image clean.
There is a lot more that goes into managing your online presence and I will cover these in future articles. If you are very active online, cleaning up your profiles may sound like a lot of work, the most important place to start is with your LinkedIn profile. If you can’t invest your money to have professionals do this for you, invest your time and do it yourself, it will be worth it.
For more on the subject, read Why is my LinkedIn profile important?
“Your digital footprint is permanent. It is currently easier and cheaper to store data than it is to delete it. This means that for every one of your online actions—positive or negative, deliberate or unintentional—there is a permanent record” https://www.prnewsonline.com/4-things-you-need-to-know-about-your-digital-footprint/