For students preparing for their foray into the job market, it's essential to not only polish up their resume, but also be aware of what potential employers will find when searching for them online. Online reputation management has become essential, as 92% of recruiters perform an online search of a candidate before staging a face-to-face interview. There may be items about you online that you would not feel comfortable with a potential employer viewing.
In today's digital age, your online presence is becoming your resume. Whether it's compromising photos, vulgar language, or even a mistaken identity, college graduates entering the job market need to be cognizant about what's out there when someone searches for their name on Google or any of the other major search engines. If there are specific items found that could diminish your chance to land your first job, you can utilize specific tactics to be sure that positive information can supersede any negative results. This resource has been formulated to provide soon-to-be or recent college graduates with a step-by-step guide to ensure their online reputation is both managed as well as protected.
Reputation Management Guide for College Grads
- Assess Current Search Results - The first step for a college graduate to take in addressing their online reputation management is to take inventory of the search results when someone searches their name in the major search engines. With the advent of social media, many college students don't think twice as to what photos or nefarious comments may be visible to the public through a simple search. The goal now is to assess the current results and follow the steps to present yourself in the most professional manner as possible to make the college graduate appealing to a potential employer.
- What to Look For - A recent survey showed that 85% of hiring managers state a college graduate's positive online presence impacted their hiring decisions. Whether it's identity confusion, false claims, photos which may be deemed offensive, profanity used in writing, grammar or spelling errors, non-updated social profiles, or actual mistakes, this piece shows exactly what a college student should be looking for when they perform a search for their name. All of these situations can be addressed but should be documented during research.
- Take Inventory - Performing some diligence as to which web properties you have control of is important when looking at a college graduate's online presence. Documenting if you author a blog, as well as each of the social media accounts that you have registered, is important as well. Looking to see if there are any online pieces written by you on other sites will assist in the process. The end goal is to clearly understand the positive pieces pertaining to you on the web in order to determine how to craft your online reputation when looking for that first job.
Begin Taking Action
- Acquire Social Profiles - By taking the initiative to go out and create profiles for yourself on many of the top social media platforms, you are creating additional content to be found when a recruiter could be searching for your name. There may be some social platforms that you do not find completely relevant to you, but you are simply expanding your online presence. You have the ability to create content on these platforms which will portray you in the light you deserve for a recruiter or hiring manager.
- Set Up Google Alerts - Google created a free tool that is infinitely useful to a college graduate when monitoring their online reputation. Google Alerts gives you the ability to set up an account to notify you at your choosing when your name appears online. Being equipped with this information will allow you to be immediately informed when your name appears online. It's an excellent tool to be sure you are included in conversations related to your field of choice when searching for a job. This section gives you step-by-step instructions to set up your Google Alerts account correctly.
- Set Up Social Alerts - While Google Alerts can inform when your name is located in their search engine, it is also imperative to monitor what's being said on social networking sites. There are many tools on the market that can do the work for you. HootSuite has an option for the price that a recent college grad would appreciate (free) to monitor social conversations that involve your name. Being quick to respond to relevant social conversations is a trait that recruiters would look favorably upon.
- Set Up & SEO Your Site - A college graduate searching for employment should have a website where they can host their resume, as it shows the job search is being taken seriously. This guide shows you not only how to create your site and relevant content, but also to set it up in a manner which is friendly to the search engines. Using some of our search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, you will give your new site better visibility in major search engine results.
- Review Old Profiles - Some social platforms have now been around for nearly 10 years. A college graduate is probably a much different person than they were even five years ago when they created social media profiles while in high school. By going back and auditing all of your social profiles, you can ensure they do not contain anything you do not see fit for public consumption or to be viewed by a potential employer. The last thing you would want is an opinion from six years ago costing you a chance to land your first job.
- Take Advantage of LinkedIn - LinkedIn is a phenomenal tool to not only host a resume in order to market a college graduate directly to an employer, but also to be able to network and connect with someone who may be able to make an introduction that can lead to a new job. There is a right way and a wrong way to utilized LinkedIn, and we are confident that this guide can direct a college graduate to get the most possible out of LinkedIn during their employment search and beyond.
- Be Active - When someone leaves their university, they usually have a good idea as to what field they're interested in. It makes sense to understand the various websites and web communities people in those respective fields frequent. Learning as much as you can in your field, as well as becoming an active participant, is going to assist you in networking with people who could be the assistance you need to come into your dream job.
- Become a Thought Leader - Now that you have become active in communities related to your field, you are most likely aware of the thought leaders in your vertical. It would now help to begin writing pieces on your own to place on your personal site. It may be daunting to think of becoming a thought leader at this part of your career, but you can pick a niche and expand on it. Creating something useful for people will help your site attain more visitors as well as rise up the search engines to make your web profile look even more professional to a potential employer.
- Build Reputation - By authoring well-thought out pieces, it gives you an excellent reason to reach out to the thought leaders who may be interested in your content. It's always easier to network with influential people when you are coming to them with something that could be useful. It's also important to link your Google+ profile to your site where the content is hosted. Doing so will give the content a personal touch as your photo will begin to appear with it when it appears in the Google results, once again creating more positive content for your online reputation profile.
- Succeed & Monitor - The average person spends only 4.4 years at a job, so even after you land your first job out of college, it's not time to forget about your online reputation. Continue to monitor the results on a regular basis, as you never know when an even better opportunity could present itself. As you come in to your first position, you should also continue to think about college graduates in the coming years and how you can assist them with the tools you have acquired in how to properly manage your online reputation.