Having a positive online reputation isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for employment, but it can definitely help you land a job. Conversely, having a negative one can significantly hurt your chances as well.

Believe it or not, your online reputation does matter to prospective employers—and they’ll probably find it a good reason to deny you a job.

If job hunting is particularly difficult for you even with your perfect credentials and winning interview skills, then the problem may lie in your online activities.

And if that’s truly the case, you probably need to start thinking about managing your online reputation.

What is an Online Reputation and Why Does it Matter?

Your online reputation includes any content about you (positive and negative) that is available online for other people to see—pictures, comments, videos, or even blog posts that mention your name, whether created by you or others.

Employers and hiring managers make it a point to review a candidate’s online presence by checking their social media profiles, performing searches on Google, and using people search sites to view publicly accessible data.

How Your Online Reputation Affects Your Job Prospects

A study found that 70 percent of recruiters in the United States reject job candidates based on information found online. It also revealed that majority of hiring managers in the U.S. use the Internet and social media to gather information about job candidates.

Nearly 80 percent of the respondents revealed that they do it all of the time, or at least most of the time.

According to the study, these are the online spaces that recruiters often check when researching an applicant’s online reputation:

  • 62% use social networking sites
  • 52% use professional networking sites
  • 44% use personal websites
  • 35% use photo/video sharing sites
  • 31% use blogs
  • 25% use online forums/communities

Social Media: What Potential Employers Can Find

There are some social media activities that can affect your chances of getting hired.

Here are some possible red flags that could get your application rejected:

  • Any content (photos, videos, blog posts, etc.) that show or describe you engaging in illegal or reckless activities
  • Any content that shows you drinking, taking illegal substances, or partying heavily
  • Any textual content created by you that contain profanity, sexually explicit content, etc.
  • Posts, photos, or comments that are politically incorrect or offensive
  • Blogs, forum comments, and social media posts created by you that negatively talk about past or current employers and colleagues
  • Posts that contain bad grammar and poor syntax

Manage Your Online Reputation to Land Your Dream Job

8 Must-Do's for Anyone Who Wants to Start Their Own Online Business

It’s not enough to just clean up your social media pages and regulate all your future posts. You need to be concerned with what everyone else can (and will) post about you, too.

Anyone with online access can create negative content about you if they wanted to, which is why you need to take steps to prevent all other parties from molding your online reputation.

Online reputation management tips:

Audit Yourself

Examine the state of your online identity by running various searches for your name on Google, Bing, and Yahoo. You also need to search for your name on popular social media sites.

If you notice that the top results for your name on search engines are from non-professional sources, then it’s time to update your web properties and social media profiles to craft a more professional image.

Ideally, the top search results about you on Google should reflect your profession and other professional interests.

Consolidate Your Web Properties

One great option is to purchase your domain name so that you can craft a professional image that is publicly accessible. Fill this personal website with a short bio, include your CV, highlight some of your accomplishments, and include links to your social media sites.

Having your own website makes it easier for online reputation management.

You may also create a blog page on your personal website, where you can post regularly about topics related to your industry and profession.

By posting professional content regularly on your blog, you can slowly build authority, attract an audience, and generate a favorable online reputation.

If you’re interested in starting your own blog, I created a quick tutorial showing you the right steps. Check out How to Start a Profitable Blog. As long as you set up your site soon (takes less than 20 minutes), you’ll be able to start creating content and monetizing it.

Continuously Monitor Your Online Identity

Set up Google Alerts for your name so that whenever your name shows up on search results, you’ll know about it. This helps you keep track of content about you that surfaces online.

You can also use a reputable online reputation management website to help you monitor and control your online reputation.

Push Down Negative Search Results with Positive Content      

You cannot always control what other people post about you online. If there is negative content about you on the first page of Google, your best strategy is to produce your own content (only positive ones, of course) to push the negative search results down.

About The Author

This is a guest post by Lacey Hauptman, a freelance writer and budding travel photographer.