Tony McChrystal, Director of ReputationDefender EMEA, oversees the Europe, Middle East, and Africa division of a globally recognised online reputation management company. In this article, we explore the impact of online reputation on an individual’s career, highlighting how the content published online can shape their professional prospects.
Online reputation management (ORM) empowers individuals and businesses to take control of their online presence and shape the conversation surrounding them. An online reputation encompasses how others perceive a person or business when searching for them online. It is vital to proactively manage one’s online reputation by promoting a balanced and accurate representation while countering misleading information to create the right impression.
ORM revolves around two cycles: a vicious cycle, where individuals ignore their online reputation and risk being affected by rumors and misinformation, and a virtuous cycle, where they actively manage their online reputation by generating positive content.
Whether an individual is a recent graduate embarking on their career journey or a seasoned professional seeking advancement, a lack of positive Google search results can significantly impact their job opportunities. As individuals climb the corporate ladder, prospective employers increasingly scrutinise their online reputation, with recruiters relying on social media to evaluate potential candidates. Thus, the absence of relevant information can raise doubts about a candidate’s credibility and negatively impact their employability.
Both graduates and professionals must pay close attention to their online reputation. According to a study by CareerBuilder, 69% of employers admit to Googling job candidates during the screening process. Social media content, including posts, pictures, and comments, can heavily influence an individual’s employability. In fact, the same study reveals that 54% of employers have rejected candidates based on their social media activity. This issue is particularly pronounced among job seekers aged 16 to 34, with 10% missing out on job opportunities due to their online presence.
The internet has become the primary source of information, and people often trust what they find online when making important decisions. Research from Edelman Insights indicates that two out of three individuals consider the internet as the most reliable source of information about a person. Moreover, when considering local businesses, 97% of people check online reviews, highlighting the potential impact of negative online content on individuals and businesses.
For job seekers, maintaining an active presence on social media can be advantageous, providing a platform to showcase their enthusiasm and expertise in their chosen field. However, it is crucial to ensure that all content reflects them positively. A casual comment made years ago or content erroneously associated with them could have severe repercussions on their professional life.
To assess one’s digital footprint, logging out of the browser is crucial to ensure search results are not influenced by personal search history. Googling oneself with specific occupation or location details can help narrow down results to the most relevant content.
It is worth noting that few individuals look beyond the first page of Google search results. However, negative material appearing on the first page can significantly impact a candidate’s job prospects. Content that can harm employability includes evidence of criminal behavior, references to substance abuse, discriminatory statements, disclosure of confidential information about previous employers, provocative images or videos, and critical comments about former employers or colleagues.
Professionals seeking career advancement must adopt a proactive approach to ORM to ensure their online reputation becomes an asset rather than a liability. Taking control of one’s digital footprint involves adjusting privacy settings, actively building a positive online presence, addressing inaccuracies, and taking measures to remove negative content.
Whether at the beginning of their career or on the path to success, professionals must think before posting content on social media, as the impact can be significant and long-lasting.
Even after joining a company, employees should remain mindful that their social media posts may be monitored by employers. While Googling oneself might seem self-indulgent, it is a critical first step in understanding one’s digital footprint and safeguarding their professional reputation.