Controlling your image on the Internet

As the No. 1 media, the Internet carries all sorts of useful information for job hunters as well as for recruiting employers. However, some personal information could get in the way of a potential hiring or promotion. Your virtual reputation, or online reputation can have serious consequences on your real life. How then can you control your image on the Internet?

Internet: friend or foe?

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, forums, open chats and blogs are useful communication tools when looking for a job. They can however become treacherous if the image they reflect doesn’t match the reality or works against you.

Stay on guard

Just as you can send an application file over the Internet, so too can a recruiter investigate a potential applicant with just a few clicks. Recruiters and headhunters are present on social networks and are taking advantage of the possibilities offered by the Internet in their day-to-day work, whether it is to find the ideal profile or to seek information about candidates. It is thus important to pay particular attention to the data and vocabulary used when creating your profile, writing a blog or publishing a message in a forum, even more so when your name appears fully.

An example of the dangers of the web

The “Employer Perspectives on Social Networking Survey”, one of the latest surveys published by Manpower Inc., gives an example of the consequences of too great freedom of speech on the Internet: “In 2008, Virgin Atlantic fired 13 flight attendants who had posted their candid thoughts about the company on a Facebook page”. If this is true for actual employees, the same goes for job seekers.

Be active on social networks

On social networks or blogs, as long as they are professional, your success depends on your level of engagement. While maintaining a blog requires dedication, bringing your social networks to life is a piece of cake. All you have to do is create a profile, maintain it and manage your contacts (read the part of this site dedicated to networking ((@SRE: ajouter lien vers « Adoptez la networking attitude sur les réseaux sociaux »))).

Manage your reputation on the Internet

1. Google your name regularly. To google your name, enter it between brackets in the Google search engine in order to:

  1. find out if you have any namesakes;

  2. find out on which sites your name appears;

  3. check your public profile on social networks;

  4. check if any information related to you is published on sites that you may not know about and if so have it removed, especially if it is harmful for your image;

  5. Check that all information related to you is accurate and up-to-date.

Recruiters have the habit of comparing the information they find online with the information that they receive from a candidate. Beware of contradictions and white lies.

2. Don’t let any gossip or potentially harmful pictures circulate. If you discover compromising elements on a website contact the webmaster. If it is on a blog, use your right to reply or get in touch with the author and ask them to remove the comment. Just imagine if a recruiter came across it!

Watch out: keep in mind that it can be difficult to have data removed once it is published, since it can be replicated on other platforms without the author being informed.

3. Check the privacy of the websites on which you are publishing your personal data. Personal data includes any piece of information that can be tracked down to you such as your first name, last name, address, birth date, contacts, bank account number, credit card number, pictures, etc.

4. Restrict access to your profile and protect your privacy. For example, limit access to your close friends or your contact list. Ask them not to publish anything about you without consulting with you beforehand. Explain to them that your chances of finding a job also depend on the image reflected on the Internet.

5. Update your profiles regularly. Most recruiters will perform an Internet search using your name. Outdated or inconsistent information might have a negative influence on the employer’s decision.

Summary