Bill Hartzer

Personal Reputation Management: Fight to Be Seen Online

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You are responsible for your own personal reputation online. As a manager at various companies search marketing agencies over the years I have had to do my fair share of hiring. I believe that it behooves me to share with the job-seeking public, some words of advice. Having been in this industry for since the early 2000s, I have seen the landscape change. In fact, the whole game is different and people who are looking for employment have to work with different rules and requirements today. Because I don’t source suitably qualified applicants for any one field in particular, I hope you will receive my advice in the holistic tone in which it is intended. If I were giving a lecture, my opening statement to you would be simple – You people are messing up, royally. A little harsh, a little succinct, but very necessary.

I’ve reviewed many applications and processed hundreds of resumes for various companies and positions and what I am encountering is disappointing and scary to say the least. It would seem that book sense has almost completely taken the place of common sense, leaving applicants all thumbs when it comes to what they need to do and how they need to fight to be seen online. They didn’t take responsibility for their own personal online reputation management.

How much does personal reputation management cost? Read my article about the cost of reputation management.

To give you some real life perspective, I am at a point where I will short list candidates who lack both experience and credentials simply because of the way in which they present themselves on paper and because of how well they have managed their online presences as well. Shocking? Maybe – but the reality is a lot of applicants seem to negate the importance of keeping personal and professional lives separate and while you may not put all your activities on your resume, trust me, if you’ve done it and its online, I will find it. And if I can find it, don’t put it past a potential employer, your potential coworkers and potential clients to find it all too. So in an effort to help save you from yourselves, I present a quick list of things you should and shouldn’t do to get into my good books or the good books of any recruiter worth their weight in gold:

1. Don’t have a link to your personal Facebook profile in your email signature. Facebook, while widely popular, is still for social networking. If you’re fresh out of college or high school and you don’t have a circle of professional friends, access to your Facebook gives me too much insight into who you are off the clock.

2. Do include your LinkedIn URL in all professional e-connections. This is the Facebook for professionals. You won’t see pictures here of anyone scantily clad or in any other state of inebriation or undress. This is where people put up their work and education history and connect and network with people within their fields.

3. Don’t staple a picture to your hard copy resume and application unless you are told to do so. This is a fairly outdated concept and again, if I want to know what you look like, chances are I can find you online.

4. Consider using one version of your name for your professional activities, such as job hunting, and another for your personal life. For example, for your resume and career, use your first name and middle initial. Then, use another version, such as dropping your middle name or middle initial, for your personal life. Employers searching for your first name and middle initial will see your professional image.

5. If you can’t keep track of your online reputation, get professional help to do so. For example, I personally can help you with online reputation management services. If there are any photos, posts, Tweets, or mentions of your name that aren’t very flattering–or hurting your reputation, get in touch with me.

As I mentioned, it’s your responsibility to take control of your personal reputation online. Using social media profiles, Facebook pages, LinkedIn profiles, and even Twitter profiles, you can make those pages show up in the search results for your name, the same name you use on your resume. When potential employers search for your name in Google, and they will, make sure it’s a stellar, professional personal reputation. Reputation management is important–and this time it’s personal.

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