Your Future Employer Will Stalk You Online. How Online Reputation Affects Your Career

Why Your Online Reputation Matters

Your online reputation can affect multiple aspects of your life from relationships to your ability to get a job. Everyone from recent college graduates to older professionals looking for a career change can be negatively impacted by their online reputation. Because of this you should be monitoring what shows up for your name, so performing a Google search on yourself frequently is important.

It’s becoming the norm for recruiters to perform background checks that go deeper than recent criminal history. It’s estimated that around 70% of businesses research potential employees’ online presence early during the hiring period, often before the first interview.

Employers are looking for information that indicates of how you will interact with co-workers and clients. They want to ensure you are a good fit for their team. They can learn a lot about you pretty easily online

How to Manage Your Online Reputation

You want to start managing your online reputation before you start submitting resumes. Not having an online presence can be just as damaging as one with negative information. Employers often treat these applications the same. They end up in the not interested pile.

Businesses are looking for applicants with a strong online presence full of positive information describing their experiences, interests, and life goals. It gives recruiters a glimpse into what the person will be like as an employee.

Managing your online reputation starts with knowing what information is out there for people to read. This way if something negative shows up you can work on getting that result suppressed or removed, but that is no easy task, and it takes some time.

Discover Your Digital Identity

Have you ever searched for your name online? It’s surprising what can pop up. Some of the information may even be about someone else with an identical name, and that can make things even more difficult to clean up any negative results.

Search as far back as your hometown or first employer, you don’t want to miss anything potentially harmful to your online reputation.

Some people are lucky enough to not have any surprises. The information they find is true without negative connotations. If you’re sharing a name with others, consider creating a new name for your social media sites. Keep the name similar to yours, and use it on applications, email, and resumes. Sometimes adding your middle name or initial is enough to separate you from the others.

Another excellent way of monitoring your name is taking advantage of Google alerts, which is a free way to monitor anytime your name gets mentioned anywhere. With Google alerts you can be notified immediately when the page gets crawled by Google.

Clean Up Your Social Media Pages

Social media sites are a treasure trove of information for recruiters. Not only can they view your pages, but also your family and friends. Are you tagged in photos and posts? Potential employers can access their pages. Some of the information you may not want them to see.

Scroll through your Facebook posts and check the tags. Remove tags from photos and posts that might be controversial or unprofessional. Delete any content from your page that might raise concerns.

Twitter is another platform you want to check. If you tweeted something negative in the past you can delete it, but if it is posted by others it may be harder to get removed. You might not be able to remove negative tweets and embarrassing photos, but you can reach out to who created the tweet and kindly ask them to remove it, and if the issue they posted about has been resolved there is a good chance they may delete it. If you cannot get it removed by the original poster you will at least be prepared to answer any questions from the recruiter.

What Are Your Friends Posting?

Your content is clean, but your friends can still tag you in unprofessional content. So keep an eye on your social media alerts and remove any tags you don’t want others to see. Try asking your friends to avoid tagging you is an option. It may help slow down some of the inappropriate tags.

The best way to handle issues of being tagged or having someone else post something negative to your Facebook wall is to set your privacy settings so no one can post on your wall by you. In your privacy settings you can also choose to have any tags so they must be approved by you before the tag will show on your wall. This way you can avoid being tagged in anything that could potentially have a negative impact on you.

Additional Privacy Settings

When was the last time you actually checked the privacy settings on your social media accounts? The platforms frequently update the settings, and it often changes your personal ones.

Privacy settings determine your profile’s visibility. You can set your social media settings all to private so viewing your content is invitational only. But once again, that may limit recruiters from viewing it. Make sure your social media accounts are set to public. You do not have to have every post public, but having a lot good, positive posts can benefit you greatly, especially if they are posts related to the type of work you do.

Your online reputation may matter more than you realize. It can affect your ability to land the job of your dreams. While you are researching potential employers, they are combing through social media profiles hunting for the right employees. They are also Googling your name, which is usually the first thing a potential new employer will do to learn more about you.

One idea is scrubbing away anything that will be perceived as negative that is tied to your online presence, especially your name since that is what employers will look at first. One thing you want to make sure of is that when you Google your name you see only positive results, including any posts or tweets, even if they are years old. It is important to have an online presence because many businesses are just as hesitant to hire someone who can’t be found online. This is the reason you should always think about what you are posting online.

Managing your online reputation ensures you have a presence without negative or risky posts. But how do you manage your reputation and keep it ready for scrutiny by a potential employer?

What is an Online Reputation?

An online reputation includes all of the digital information associated with your name. It includes social media posts, tweets, as well as any public records pertaining to things like arrests. Friends and family can add to your online reputation by posting and tagging your name which can also have negative repercussions. Newspaper articles, videos, and images of you with others also make up your online reputation.

Your online reputation is primarily comprised of public information, but it can include items you think are private, but they are actually public. Doing a deep dive into your online accounts can turn up information you don’t want a future employer viewing so before job hunting it is important to ensure your online reputation is nice and clean.

Unlike your digital footprint which provides information, an online reputation is the opinion others have of you which will be based on negative issues found in your digital footprint. So when something negative shows up for your name it is important that you try to get that result removed or suppressed so it is a few pages down in search results since most employers will usually only look at page 1 of search results, but some will even look through pages 2 or 3 of search results.

Keep Posting on Your Social Media Pages

You don’t want to let your social media pages go dark after cleaning them. Keep commenting on posts, sharing articles, and posting content. It shows recruiters you are current on the latest industry news and connected to others in your field.

Keeping your social media pages has another bonus, it helps keep your name at the top of the search results. Recruiters will see your name and a link to your content. It indicates a strong online presence and a good reputation.

Being careful about the content you post doesn’t mean excluding personal posts. Keep the posts professional, but hiring managers look for information that will give them an idea of how you interact with others. They apply this to how you’ll fit into the company culture. Don’t be afraid to show your creative and playful side. It gives your presence more depth. For many employers company culture is becoming extremely important, so it is something that hiring managers will be looking at. Just be careful what type of content you post, remember the old saying “Think before you speak”, but in this case it is “Think before you post”.

Start Managing Your Online Reputation in College or Before

Starting early is the best way to manage your online reputation and college is the perfect place to start. It’s where employers often start looking, and a wrong post can make it hard for a graduate to land a job in their field.

You want to have a strong online presence without any unprofessional content. It means carefully considering each post before sending it and being certain it will not damage your or someone else’s reputation.


Employers aren’t as willing anymore to overlook college indiscretions. Awkward photos resurfacing years later from freshman year can have unfortunate consequences in your job search.

Watch for any content with your name tagged and remove any attached to unprofessional content. Avoid adding strangers to your friend lists, unless they happen to work in your industry, then it can benefit you because you can have conversations about work related. This is something that will most likely happen naturally anyways as you get to know your college peers studying in the same field as you.


Start doing a double check so you can do more scrubbing of your social media pages that you may have missed since you most likely have many years of content on these social sites. You should also do another deep Google search on your name. You want to start cleaning up any negative content before graduation. By students’ junior year, some industries are already sending recruiters to schools searching for talent. A tip when Googling your own name is to wrap quotation marks around your name to help Google show results that just have your name in them.

Create a professional online network through sites like LinkedIn. You can connect with professionals in your field. Add your contacts from volunteering, internships, and fieldwork to boost your online presence and reputation. You can also start writing posts on LinkedIn to share your knowledge, which will also help other professionals endorse you for your skills.

Before graduation, you also want to start researching companies you are interested in applying to. You can use your social pages to contact key company figures and ask questions to help determine if the company is a good fit. This is what makes LinkedIn one of the most important social sites to aid you in your professional career search. Recruiters love LinkedIn because it shows them what you know, who you know, and what you are good at, especially when you have real testimonials on your profile.