Your Professional Online Image Has Been Tainted – What Now?

April 17, 2012

Whether you’re a recent graduate in search of a new job, or a working professional looking to take the next step in your career, owning and managing your online image is crucial. As we all know, anything goes online, and the sheer size of the web gives anyone with a connection access your good, bad and ugly, alike.

If you’ve come across negative information about you online, here are steps to help build yourself back up:

1.   Know what’s out there, so there are no surprises.
Google your name, and take a close look at the first few pages. Since online screening has become an important part of the hiring process, it’s key to be aware of the information that’s out there about you. If you know what’s out there, you’ll be prepared to address any inquiries.

2.   Be upfront and proactive.
If you do end up having to field questions regarding negative online content, take the proactive approach. Be honest about what’s being said and why, and share how you are going to respond.

3.   Have it removed (or remove it yourself).
The longer you wait to remove unsavory content, the further it could spread. If you posted something inappropriate on your social media accounts, simply delete it. If someone else posted a negative comment, ask them to remove it. If the other party is unwilling to comply, consider raising the stakes and taking legal action. Also, if the damage to your reputation is substantial, consider a professional reputation management service that will help you remove content.

4.   Create your own content.
Many employers will only look at the first few pages after entering your name in search engines. By posting your own content, you can help push down any negative content and showcase your own positive content. Traditional blogs, video blogs and social media profiles rank high on search engines, so create as much positive content as possible. Also, consider deleting unused accounts that might contain outdated personal information.

With vigilance and initiative, negative online content can be resolved. But it’s always a good idea to be proactive–taking steps to ensure that YOU are the one dictating your online reputation.


Where Does Your Personal Information Live?

March 23, 2012

You’d be surprised to find out how much of your information is out there. Your data lives in hundreds of locations online and may even be sold without your permission. Yet, a lot of people maintain trust and feel confident when searching, buying and socializing online–believing their personal information gets lost in the sheer volume of online transactions that take place on a daily basis.

Your personal information can be found through:

  • Search people databases such as Spokeo or Intelius
  • Major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing
  • Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • The deep web – the part of the web that cannot be accessed through ordinary search engines

How does your information get there in the first place?

That’s easy. You offer it up. Consider all the things you do online: emailing, shopping, social networking, banking and many more. All of these actions require us to surrender personal and, oftentimes, financial information. It is difficult to always consider carefully where your information goes before sending it into the infinite abyss of the Internet

Here are a few pointers:

1. Check a company’s privacy policy before you sign up for their service. Is it going to sell your information to the highest bidder? If so, think twice before entering your information.

2. If a company doesn’t disclose a privacy policy, don’t provide them with any personal information.

3. Always opt-out when asked to if you are OK with sharing your information with third parties.

We face a serious trade-off between privacy and convenience. Short of never going online, it’s almost impossible to keep all personal information off of the Internet, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up online privacy all together. We just need to make more of an effort to be stingy and vigilant behind the keyboard.