Google and You: The Personal Reputation Economy

Published: 7 May 2014

Your online personal reputation is important. More than 60% of people Google you before deciding to meet. Google is the new background check. What is found on search engines is your online public brand and you need to ensure you're happy with it. 

Most people focus on the quality of their CVs and cover letters.  If an application is successful they jump to think about the interview and possible questions. But what your digital footprints says about you could damage your chances of a dream job before you have even met a prospective employer.
It’s time to be mindful of the effect of our social profile and the way our physical presence can be misinterpreted after an internet search.

The question of ethics aside, more employers are turning to social networks to check up on prospects, and what they find could determine whether or not you are considered as a potential candidate.
Here are some simple steps to ensure your social profile is as strong as you are in the flesh:

1.  Google yourself: are the search results the best reflection of who you really are.  Are there any results or are you hidden by namesakes?

2.  Images: first impressions count.  Are the Google Image findings appropriate and professional? If the picture isn’t of you, change it where you can – concentrate on LinkedIn, Google+, Slideshare, Skype; all of which rank highly in Google. Don’t use images of pets, kids or other funnies.  It’s not you.  The consequence of no photo is equally important as a lack of image creates a negative impression.

3.  Content: If you really want to be serious then build your profile in selected networks such as G+ and LinkedIn, share content, be active. The people you follow and subjects that matter to you tell a great story about the person you are. Another Google favourite is Slideshare, create an account and add content, but don’t upload vast pages of material.  Keep them short – three to five slides. Add videos to Vimeo and pictures to Flickr to further build a picture that should be interesting to an employer.

Be real and authentic in your public networks – show a human as well as a professional side. Think about your role, your achievements, and your passions.

Remember no network is truly private – whatever you say, write, post could be shared.  So if you are looking for a new role clean up your digital footprint and watch what you post.  You don’t want to end up like the US public relations executive who lost her job after she foolishly Tweeted about AIDS in Africa!

Ignoring your online personal brand is not an option in today’s reputation based economy. People do business with people, so make sure you tell and sell the right story about you.

Tamsin Terry-Lush is a Principal Consultant in the Retail Practice at Berwick Partners.

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