With more than 14 million Americans out of work and unemployment rates still on the rise, the job market remains highly competitive, so your professional reputation is as important as ever. While Reppler focuses on protecting your online image on social networking sites like Facebook, there are other areas of your life that affect your professional reputation. This article will look at reputation on a macro level to explain what information affects your employment and what potential employers are looking for.
Many people believe that their financial history has nothing to do with their job performance, but most employers disagree. A survey by the Society of Human Resource Management in 2010 revealed that 60% of employers run credit checks on all or some applicants. Despite protests from employees, employers argue that it is just another screening tool to evaluate an employee for a job and helps to determine whether a potential employee is responsible, honest and accountable. If an applicant has a stable financial history, it is more likely that the person will stay at the job. Employers also check for fraud and dishonest financial behavior. So what can you do? Be prepared and know your credit score! Check your credit report once a year, and if an employer asks for your permission to run a credit check, be prepared to discuss any issues up-front. If you know there are imperfections in your credit report, explain the situation and don’t wait for the employer to find out.
The following site provides a free annual credit report: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/
Another area of interest is your public record. It’s estimated that up to 40% of resumes can contain false or tweaked information, so employers might want to verify your information to insure that what they are getting is what they were promised. Information in public records has been filed or recorded by public agencies and can be either created by the federal and local government (vital records, real estate records, driving records) or by the individual (magazine subscription, voter registration etc.). Even though most essential public records are maintained by the government, they are accessible to the public either free-of-charge or for an administrative fee.
To find out what information is on public record under your name, visit your state’s website or use a nationwide directory of online and offline public record sources such as http://publicrecords.onlinesearches.com/
Employers are facilitating background checks more diligently, as negligent hiring suits are picking up and can cost the company millions of dollars. Checking driving records and criminal records is becoming a standard procedure for many employers. They are looking for information in your background that indicates a predisposition to violence or illegal activity. If you are planning on entering the job market, do a pre-screening yourself to make sure that there are no unpleasant surprises waiting in your criminal record. Just like with your financial background, it might be better to proactively address any issues in your criminal history. Being honest about it and admitting past mistakes will always work in your favor.
To pre-screen your criminal records, check online to see if your state has a criminal database on the internet. If not, you can also go to the local courthouse in which you believe you have committed a crime and access those records.
Personal (Offline) Image
Besides checking the official references provided on your application, some companies also check your reputation in their own networks. Employers might call up personal contacts in companies that you have worked for to ask for informal references, so it is important to display a professional attitude at your current job at all times. Even if the contact doesn’t have specific information regarding your job performance, he or she might have some general information about job related issues like reliability, punctuality and the way you present yourself; are you polite and friendly, or often grouchy and moody. Be aware of your professional image, not just with regard to your immediate supervisor, but also your general presence in the company.
Part of your professional reputation is your online presence on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and search engines like Google and Yahoo. Search for your name in Google to check what others can find out about you, and if you discover public information that could damage your reputation and limit your chances of finding employment, contact the source and ask them to remove the information. Setting up Google Alerts for your name will help you to monitor search engine results. In 2009, a CareerBuilder survey revealed that 45% of employers employers are using social media sites to screen job applicants, so monitoring your online reputation is crucial nowadays. Before you start searching for a new job, clean up your social networking sites and your Facebook profile in particular. Remove inappropriate content from your wall, delete indecent pictures and adjust your privacy settings so that only friends can access your profile. Monitoring services like Reppler will help you to keep your Facebook image clean and safe.