ReputationManagement.com CEO Bill Fish has been busy sharing advice on business, reputation management, and personal branding. From common social media and LinkedIn mistakes to fixing your online reputation, there’s a lot to learn from the articles Bill has been quoted in over the past few weeks

Surviving a Social Media Mishap

Mistakes happen, and far too often, they happen on social media while the world is watching. Often, online posts can become big news, ending careers and causing more than a few media relations headaches. If you’ve experienced a social media blunder, what can you do? Time asked experts to share the steps to take if you need to do damage control and reclaim your online brand. Fish says it’s a good idea to delete the mistake — but be careful not to nuke your entire profile. And of course, take ownership of your mistakes:

We know, we know—nothing is ever truly gone from the Internet, right? But still, the first line of defense would be to “immediately delete said post,” says Bill Fish, founder and president of ReputationManagement.com.

Depending on how bad your social media slip is, you might be tempted to delete your entire account—but unless you’re being threatened, that might be an extreme move. “Shutting down an account admits defeat and basically looks like you are hiding from the issue you caused,” says Fish. “Why delete any good will you have built with your posts over the years? Simply go in and scrub your account to get rid of anything that could be offensive.”

But what if you do get pulled into the boss’s office with raised eyebrows?

Then it’s time to take full responsibility, says Fish—and “it is imperative that you do not use phrases like ‘If I offended someone … ’ The only reason you are making this apology is because you offended someone, so as difficult as it may be, admit you were wrong and offer a heartfelt apology,” he adds.

It only takes a moment to post a potentially career-threatening faux pas on social media—and far longer to create a positive and professional online image. But there are ways to expedite the process. “Our mantra is to take up as much search engine ‘real estate’ as possible,” says Fish. “Creating [business] social accounts across multiple platforms will be in your best interest—but you can also take it a step further.”

Then, create professional-only social media accounts. Link to them from the homepage of your new site. “Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ seem to be given the most preferential treatment on Google these days,” says Fish. “Keeping your posts intelligent on those platforms gives you the best chance to succeed. Once you start to get a bit of a following, your website and connected social media accounts should gradually begin to appear on page one of Google when someone searches your name.”

Ways to Fix Your Online Reputation

If you’re not pleased with what you find when you Google yourself, it may be time to fix your online reputation. This is especially true if you’re job hunting, as employers are increasingly checking up on candidates online before extending a hiring offer. What is there to do if you need help with your online reputation? Bill shares some of the most important steps you can take:

“The first step is to Google yourself just to see what is out there,” Bill Fish, the president of ReputationManagement.com, told The Cheat Sheet. “There could be photos from 10 years ago that you completely forgot about, or there could be something out there that someone else posted about you that you had no idea of.”

“[G]o through all of your social media accounts and delete anything that you wouldn’t be comfortable with your grandmother seeing,” Fish advised.

Scrubbing your online profiles can help improve your online reputation, but if you haven’t put your best face forward in the past, the most effective solution is to try to bury those old results with new content. Fish suggests creating a blog or website that will serve as the hub for your new personal brand. In addition to adding your resume to the site, start posting content and sharing it on your social media accounts.

“If you create fresh content to that site, it will gradually begin to rank on page one when someone searches your name, and the social media account will begin to follow,” Fish explained.

“I also think people underestimate what their strong opinions do to their job search,” said Fish. “We live in a free country and our various opinions and beliefs are what sets us apart. That said, showing your overwhelming support for the Confederate flag on Facebook and Twitter is not going to look good to a potential employer. It’s never a great idea to air those opinions in a public forum.”

“Unfortunately, cleaning up your online reputation is not a one time event, as new items can appear at any time,” Fish said. In addition to posting flattering content and keeping those embarrassing photos private, do regular checks to make sure that any potentially damaging information hasn’t surfaced.

“An individual should be able to manage their reputation on their own,” Fish said. “While it may be time consuming, it isn’t all that difficult.”

Common LinkedIn Mistakes Recruiters Make

Often, job seekers make LinkedIn mistakes, but recruiters can get slipped up on the professional social media site as well. Overconnecting, failing to send personalized messages, and viewing profiles publicly are all big LinkedIn mistakes that recruiters make all the time. Bill encourages recruiters to be selective in who they reach out to:

Applying for jobs is time-consuming. Between writing a cover letter, customizing a resume, filling in forms and compiling supporting documentation, it’s a process that can easily take a few hours. If an applicant knew their chances at receiving an offer were as good as winning the Powerball jackpot, “Many recruiters these days are using LinkedIn as a ‘spray and pray’ tool,” says Bill Fish, president at Reputation Management. “While I understand that reaching out to candidate after candidate could help you find that diamond in the rough, it creates an unnecessary amount of work for many applicants who have no chance landing a job.”

Insurance Coverage for Social Media Blinders

Social media mistakes can cause serious problems for businesses, and some even consider purchasing supplemental insurance for protection against mistakes online. Social media mistakes leave businesses open to potentially expensive legal trouble, and it’s smart to be protected. InsuranceQuotes.com recommends a combination of insurance coverage and effective social media policies.

Bill reminds businesses that it’s important to not just put social media policies in writing, but have more than one person take a look at each post to make sure there are no glaring mistakes.

Bill Fish, founder and president of Cincinnati’s ReputationManagement.com, also suggests that companies take one simple action to protect themselves: Require employees to share their posts with someone else in the company before hitting “post.”

“I can’t express how many times we have seen hastily written content that someone hits ‘post’ on without putting too much thought into. It then comes back to bite them in a big way,” Fish says. “Having another team member read over any content before posting it helps you to avoid 90 percent of social media gaffes.”

And if you or one of your employees does make a social media mistake? Fish recommends that you quickly take responsibility for it.

“Your best play is to own the mistake,” he says. “We live in a forgiving society. Delete the post and make an honest, heartfelt apology. Accepting ownership goes a long way.”

Modern Job Hunt Myths

There’s endless advice out there for job seekers from what your resume should look like to what to wear to the interview. But it’s not all useful. Many modern job hunt myths can hurt your potential and should be avoided. These myths include asking for a low salary to become more attractive and skipping resumes in favor of LinkedIn.

Another job hunting myth is that you should close down your social presence during your job search. Bill explains why this is a really bad idea:

“We encourage people to keep their social accounts active, but go through each of them to be sure there isn’t anything ‘you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see,’” says Bill Fish, president of ReputationManagement.com. “Seeing a photo of you with your friends at a baseball game having a beer is not going to stop a recruiter from bringing you in for an interview. Hiring managers like to see some personality, and social media can provide that, showing activities and interests outside of the office. Now, hate speech or references to illicit drugs are always a bad idea, and will get your resume a free ride through the shredder.”

How Employers Screen Job Seekers on Social Media

It’s no secret that employers today are researching job seekers on social media. They’re looking for red flags and valuable information that indicates whether or not a candidate might be a good fit for the organization. Several recruiters and human resources professionals explained to Fundesco.net how employers are using social networking to screen job seekers. Bill explained that they’re often looking for glaring mistakes like hate speech and drug references:

The days of fretting for hours on whether to use a semi colon or colon on your resume are gone. Now, hiring managers are looking for your total picture – and that includes your online profiles. The first thing that I tend to look for is hate speech. Coming across comments online that attack a subset of society is an immediate deal breaker for me. Drug references are also frowned upon. If you feel comfortable enough to speak about drug usage online, that is a serious red flag. Blatant misspellings may seem minor, but if the candidate can’t put in the effort to spell words correctly on social media, what kind of effort will they put in on the job? All of that said, social media shouldn’t be the main determining factor on whether or not to hire someone, but it could quickly eliminate someone from consideration.

What to Keep Off Facebook When You’re Job Hunting

Many job hunters understand that in a time when employers are increasingly screening job candidates on social media, it’s important to be careful about what they’re posting. It’s smart to keep certain things off of Facebook when you’re job hunting in particular, making sure you’re not sharing too much. Bill explained why job seekers should keep some information off of Facebook with suggestions for what should be kept private:

“Resumes can be skipped over for any reason these days,” says Bill Fish, founder of the online reputation management resource ReputationManagement.com.

A number of HR professionals and career coaches advise against any references to drug use, understandably. “Frankly, it’s too much of a headache to deal with if someone is open enough to talk about their drug use – even marijuana – on social media,” says Fish.

Before you panic about every detail on your timeline, take a high-level view. What does your profile say about you as a person? “When I am researching a candidate, I go to social media to learn about them to lighten up the conversation,” explains Fish. “If I saw they went to a Beyonce’ concert, I’d ask them about it. It puts them at ease while letting them know we did our research.”

Interview Questions You Should Stop Asking

Asking the same old interview questions over and over again can make it difficult to get the most out of every interview. Candidates are either tired of hearing them, or, they’ve prepared for the questions well in advance. Either way, many recruiters and employers would be well served to try new, more useful questions instead.

Bill suggests replacing the old standby of “Where do you see yourself in X years” with an inquiry on professional milestones:

Don’t ask this: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
What to ask instead: What professional milestones are you hoping to achieve at our company?

Nominated by: Bill Fish, President at ReputationManagement.com

This question, for candidates, is a catch 22: it’s impossible to come up with the ‘right’ answer.

“People are changing jobs more than ever,” says Fish. “Technology is evolving on a monthly basis. Some of the biggest corporations in the world were barely on the map ten years ago. I’m not even sure what would be the perfect answer. ‘I plan on staying in this same role and growing old with this company.’ That looks like you have no aspirations.”

For a truly authentic answer, interviewers should focus on the position at hand and whether the candidate will enjoy it.

“Not to mention, you are interviewing someone for a job today, not for ten years from now,” says Fish.

Caveat: If you want to get a sense of your candidate’s career aspirations, ask about his or her high-level professional goals. This subtle shift in perspective will tell you how a high-achieving candidate perceives a ‘tour of duty’ with your company. Figure out how you can support your candidates and understand their motivations.

Why a Facebook Dislike Button Could Be Bad News

Facebook recently rolled out reactions, and for some time, has been considering a dislike button. Many users are excited about this possibility, but is it a good thing for business users? Not necessarily. Experts explain why a Facebook dislike button isn’t necessarily a good idea. Bill points out that a dislike button makes it easier for businesses to have their reputation damaged on Facebook:

Bill Fish of ReputationManagement.com explains the significant downside of the dislike button for brands. “Studies have shown that people are four times more likely take the time to leave a negative review than they are to leave a positive one. Obviously one click isn’t that much effort, but businesses are going to be very leery about a paid ad campaign with Facebook if they feel the dislike button is hurting their reputation. Facebook obviously has a stranglehold on social media and has done a phenomenal job of monetizing the site, but if they are turning away advertisers because they are nervous of too many people utilizing this ‘dislike’ button, it may not last too long.”

Here at ReputationManagement.com, we love to share advice on reputation management, job hunting, and public relations. Be sure to get in touch with us if you need an expert quote or insight on reputation management or related topics. And remember to follow the ReputationManagement.com blog for news and recommendations in reputation management.