Tony McChrystal, Director of ReputationDefender EMEA, offers valuable insights into the influence of online reputation on individuals’ career prospects. In his role, leading the Europe, Middle East, and Africa division of a prominent online reputation management company, McChrystal sheds light on the significance of online content and its potential impact on professional success.
Online reputation management, commonly referred to as ORM, empowers individuals and businesses to take control of their online presence. It encompasses the management of how individuals are perceived by others when they search for them online. Recognising the importance of maintaining a positive online reputation, it is crucial for individuals to proactively address any misleading information and promote a balanced representation of themselves.
ORM can be understood through two distinct cycles: a vicious cycle, wherein individuals neglect their online reputation and risk falling victim to rumors and misinformation, and a virtuous cycle, wherein individuals actively manage their online reputation by creating positive content.
Whether an individual is a recent graduate embarking on their career or a seasoned professional seeking advancement, a lack of positive search results on Google can significantly impact their job opportunities. As individuals climb the corporate ladder, prospective employers increasingly scrutinise their online reputation portfolios, with recruiters now relying on social media platforms to evaluate potential candidates. Consequently, a lack of information about a candidate may raise doubts about their 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 conducting Google searches on job candidates during the screening process. Posts, pictures, and comments can all influence an individual’s employability. The same study revealed that 54% of employers have rejected candidates based on their social media content. This issue is particularly significant for job seekers aged 16 to 34, with 10% missing out on job opportunities due to their social media activity.
In today’s digital age, the internet is a primary source of information, and people generally trust the information they find online. Research from Edelman Insights indicates that two-thirds of individuals consider the internet to be the most reliable source of information about a person. When considering local businesses, 97% of people rely on online reviews, according to BIA Kelsey. These statistics highlight the potential impact of negative online content on individuals and businesses.
For job seekers, an active presence on social media can be a valuable asset, providing a platform to showcase their enthusiasm and expertise in their chosen field. However, it is crucial to evaluate whether all online content portrays them positively, as a comment made years ago or content erroneously linked to them could have devastating consequences for their professional life.
To assess one’s digital footprint, it is essential to log out of the browser to ensure unbiased search results unaffected by personal search history. When conducting a self-search on Google, adding an occupation or city can help narrow down results, presenting the most relevant content.
Given that few people look beyond the first page of search results, negative material appearing there can significantly impact job prospects. Content that could harm an individual’s chances of being hired includes evidence of criminal behavior, indications of substance abuse, discriminatory statements, disclosure of confidential information about previous employers, provocative images or videos, and critical comments about former employers or colleagues.
For professionals aiming to advance their careers, adopting a proactive approach to ORM is essential to transform their online reputation into an asset rather than a liability. Prudent steps include adjusting privacy settings, actively building a positive online presence, addressing inaccuracies, and taking measures to remove negative content.
Regardless of their career stage, professionals must exercise caution when posting content on social media, recognising the potential long-lasting impact. Even after joining a company, employees should be aware that their social media posts continue to be monitored, with over half of employers admitting to such monitoring. While googling oneself may seem self-centered, for individuals seeking career advancement, it is a critical first step to trace their digital footprint and protect their professional reputation.
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