Whether you’re just starting out in your career or you’ve been in the working world for a while, your personal reputation is an integral factor in how outsiders view you and how they judge your business associations.
Guarding your digital reputation and ensuring that your behavior and online communication reflects your professionalism and character can mean the difference between making meaningful strides in your industry and keeping valuable connections with colleagues. Don’t let a marred digital reputation keep you from advancing in your career or snagging the coveted job position you most want.
How Digital Dirt Can Affect Your Professional Reputation
So you’ve applied for a job you really want, and you’re competing with numerous other people for it. What’s one way you can make sure you stand out and make a favorable impression? Two words: digital reputation. Most companies these days look into your online activity to get a handle on what type of person you appear to be and how you present yourself to the outside world.
“Digital dirt” is the term often used to describe photos, comments, posts, or other online communication that can be viewed in a negative light. Sure, you may have enjoyed that Halloween party two years ago when you imbibed too much in the spiked apple cider, but those unflattering party photos of you bobbing for apples while inebriated could harm your chances of getting hired for a high-end position.
Companies know that if they search for your name, competitors and customers might do the same. The last thing they want is for their company’s reputation sullied by a less-than-flattering photo of one of their managers or account representatives at an after-work party and engaging in unprofessional activities or shenanigans.
Even though you may have changed privacy settings on certain photos to keep the world at large from seeing them, that’s not a guarantee. Figure that if you upload photos or text online, chances are someone will see them — and often it may be the people you least want to view them.
Managing Your Digital Reputation
Taking control of your digital reputation and managing it diligently is a must if you intend to cultivate a persona that is well received by business and professional industries. Just as you would guard your in-person reputation, extend those same rules to your digital reputation. Be careful whom you hang out with (or communicate with online), and avoid uploading potential damaging materials to blog or websites (both photos and written content).
If you already have possibly damaging material about you online, clean it up as best you can. Remove all offending documents and photographs, and use a reputation management program to put the brakes on any further problems which can help your online reputation repair. Search your name and image on search engines such as Google, and erase any questionable material as best you can.
If need be, design newer, more professional social profiles for yourself. Then, once you’ve activated those profiles, work to inch them up on the various search engine result pages. The first ten pages of Google search results are the most important, so concentrate on positioning your more positive and professional profiles in those upper spots.
No longer are your online activities a part of your private domain. These days, everything you do and say online is out there for inspection. From the photos you upload to the posts you make, how you present yourself in the digital realm can have a life-altering impact on your personal and professional life. Be mindful of what and how you post to ensure you maintain your digital reputation in a way that will help, not hurt, you.
How is your digital reputation affecting you?