Some interesting recent research from CareerBuilder shows that it is becoming more important than ever for someone in the middle of a career transition to mind their online manners, at least when it comes to social media. When CareerBuilder spoke to more than 2,000 hiring managers, more than half of them said that they decided not to hire a candidate based on something they found on social media.

What kind of posts caused those employers to have second thoughts about hiring a candidate?

  • 46 percent said they found inappropriate or provocative photos or posts.
  • 41 percent said they found information about drinking or drug use.
  • 36 percent said they found that the candidate had bad-mouthed a previous employer online

Managing Your Online Reputation

This is why it is so important to take an audit of your online reputation. How do you do that? Start by searching for your name online.

  • Google Yourself

Put your name in quotes and see what comes up in the search results (i.e., “Tom Fox”). Try different variations of your name—“Tom L. Fox”, “Thomas Fox”, etc.—to see what web content you find. Figure out which version of your name is the best representation of you and use that on all of your job search documents and online profiles. This will help you create a consistent brand and allow you to have more control over what comes up when people Google you.

  • Remove Negative Results

Luckily, 95% of searchers don’t look beyond the first page of search results, so ultimately those are the most important; however, it is never good to have any negative branding floating around on the Internet. On many social media sites, once you post something it stays there forever, so be careful what you post and ensure that it is consistent with your professional brand.

If you find any negative results go to the website on which they are posted and see if you have access to remove them or change them to something positive. You can explore paid options for removing your data from search engines if you are unable to remove them yourself. You can find a list of websites that can help at http://www.abine.com/optouts.php.

  • Monitor Your Brand

Continually monitor your brand, regardless of your job status. Set up a Google Alert so that you will be notified of any new search results containing your name. You can also use brand monitoring tools such as www.brandyourself.com.

Social Media Success

But the study also revealed another reason that it is critical you take control of your online reputation as soon as possible: Thirty-three of the employers surveyed said that they found something in a candidate’s social networks that made them more likely to hire that person, and 23 percent said they found something that directly led them to hire a specific candidate. What kinds of things did they find?

  • Good evidence of a candidate’s character, showing that he or she would be a good fit with company culture.
  • A variety of interests, showing that the candidate was a well-rounded person.
  • A sense of creativity or good communication skills.

The CareerBuilder study proves what many of us have known for a while now: The days of being able to post anything anywhere are gone. Your online reputation is becoming an increasingly important part of the hiring decision for employers. Just two years ago only 34 percent of respondents said that something they found on social media caused them not to hire someone. That is a 17 point jump since 2012 and a number that is only going to rise. So how is your online reputation? Is it working for you or against you?

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