Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 23rd 2013 Contents The Internet never forgets.
Everything you say and do in
the virtual world can have an
impact on your reputation in
the real world.
Once upon a time, preparing for a job or
promotion interview meant picking out a spe-
cial outfit, doing your research, getting properly
groomed and preparing a spiel. After all,
according to the popular adage, you never get
a second chance at a first impression. Today,
however, you don t even get a chance at a first
impression. At least, not an impression you
directly control. The content on your social
networks and the results of online search
engines make an initial impression for you,
whether you like it to or not.
Thanks to the popularity of social networking
sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube,
LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and Tumblr,
every one of their hundreds of millions of
users now has a digital brand. Whether or not
you have participated in the creation of your
online brand, the real question is: are you con-
sciously managing it?
Remember, your online reputation is deter-
mined not just by what you post online; but
also by how, where and when you post. It is
also affected by what others say, infer or depict
about you online; with or without your knowl-
edge or consent.
Just think about it. Applying to a university?
Looking for a job? Or curious about a new
colleague? We increasingly turn to online search
engines to get answers to these questions. The
digital information dredged up in search results
translates into how people and businesses are
known, perceived, and even treated.
In fact, if unprofessional content is linked
to your name, you may be crossed off of a list
of interviewees, without even being given an
opportunity to explain yourself. So now, beyond
what you may have worked for, the people
you associate with online may affect whether
or not you get the job you are looking for.
According to an ExecuNet survey, some 90
per cent of executive recruiters say they con-
duct online research of potential candidates
prior to interviewing them.
Up to 70 per cent of employers who have
used LinkedIn say they ve chosen not to hire
a person based on what they ve found out
about them online. However, only 27 per cent
of employers give job seekers the opportunity
to discuss the online content that is associated
with their name, such as social media profiles,
blog posts and photos.
But managing online reputations is not just
for job seekers. Increasingly, digital behaviour
is followed by employers. Online indiscretions
can have very negative real world ramifications.
For example eight per cent of companies have
reported firing someone for abusing social
Online reputation management
A burgeoning online reputation management
(ORM) industry is positioning itself to deal
with this reality.
For years, private sector companies have
employed special handlers to manage their
online reputation---often as part of the array
of services offered by a large public relations
firm or image consultants. Now new companies
are doing the same for individuals. Sites like
ReputationAdvocate.com, About.Me and Rep-
utation.biz are providing advice as well as pro-
Almost everyone can benefit from ORM,
whether for or addressing negative content,
establishing your personal online brand or
maintaining positive information on the Inter-
net. It is a wide open market with tremendous
opportunities for local HR and Brand man-
agement practices to evolve to serve new needs.
Tips for positive digital presence
The good news is you can cultivate a positive
digital presence. You can tailor your digital
life to fit your professional image. Here are
five pointers to protect your online reputation
and avoid ending up in a potential employer s
pile of rejected candidates.
• Take control of your own identity. Do not
leave your online identity to chance or to
others. Be proactive and deliberately define
your own digital identity.
• Keep on top of your online identity. Do
frequent online searches for your name on the
popular search engines like Google, Yahoo and
Bing. Take a note of where you appear online
and in what context. Also check the social
networks like Facebook and Twitter to be sure
you catch everything that you say and that s
being said about you.
• More good than bad. Post your own infor-
mation on a regular basis, highlighting positive
aspects of yourself. Also, invest in a search
engine optimisation (SEO) tool to ensure that
preferred posts and references make it to the
top of the search results for your name.
Secure everything. Make sure your e-mail
and social networks are secure and that privacy
controls are properly configured across all
online profiles. Learn the privacy features on
your online sites. Protecting your accounts
and posts mitigates against information being
inappropriately shared. It also keeps you safe
from hacker attacks.
• Don t be stupid. What s cool on Friday
night can be transformed into embarrassing
on Monday morning, and inerasable thereafter.
Think carefully about everything you post.
Also, monitor postings and tags of your image
on social media. In addition to pruning your
posts and pictures, ask others to remove unflat-
tering posts or mentions of you from social
• Keep these pointers in mind when next
you feel like ranting, cursing, flirting, flaunting,
or anything else that can negatively affect how
others perceive you. Just as in real life situations,
applying discretion, personal restraint and
sanctified common sense are the best safe-
guards to protecting your online reputation.
Bevil Wooding is the chief knowledge
office of Congress WBN (www.congress-
wbn.org), a values-based international non-
profit. He is also executive director of Bright-
Path Foundation, an education-technology
Follow on Twitter: @bevilwooding or at:
facebook.com/bevilwooding or contact via
e-mail at: technologymatters@brightpath-
MAY 2013 • WEEK FOUR www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG23
What you can do to protect your online persona
Just as in real life
restraint and sanctified
common sense are the best
safeguards to protecting
your online reputation.
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