Teaching how to take charge of your online reputation

First, Partition and Clean Up Your Act

I just read this article about how people who are recruiting search for information before hiring. The article gives advice on how to take charge of your online reputation. And even if I am aware of this and do the occasional Google search for my name every now and then, this article offered details I was not aware of.  One being the fact that you should not only use one search engine and that you should not only use your name but also nicknames and email addresses, I’m sure you have multiple email addresses like me. In Norway, we have debates about what people share in the commentaries, both on Facebook and other online places. It is good to be reminded that your digital footprint is difficult to erase. Once said, it can’t be unsaid. Even if you delete your remark, some clever person might have saved it or will be able to find it. A good rule is to only post remarks even your grandparents can read without you being embarrassed. You will never regret being not posting angry remarks.  An extract from the article here, Educause.edu.

  • Left: Applicants about whom negative information was found online. This could represent nearly half of the applicant pool.
  • Middle: Applicants with no negative information found online. In fact, there was no information online. The applicants did everything possible to erase their digital footprints.
  • Right: Applicants with no negative information, and the screener finds an abundance of information about their interests, experiences, and aspirations, providing a glimpse into a potential new team member. The online information includes experiences that support the applicants’ qualifications and bolsters their application materials.

After the screening and sorting, the employer decides whom to bring in for interviews, starting with the applicants sorted into the pile on the right. The reality is that the employer may not need to go any further than that pile to find a perfect fit for the open position.Most applicants do not realize that this screening is done early in the hiring process, long before they might have a chance to explain or provide a view of their abilities. Students generally don’t think about a scenario unfolding this way and are often unprepared. If they have learned about online privacy, they might understand the benefits of remediating negative information. That is a start, but it isn’t enough. As educators, we need to help students go further—students need to know how to land in that right-hand pile of applicants by creating a positive online reputation.

What Is Your Online Reputation?

Most of us have accepted that living and working in the high-tech era means that we have digital footprints—a collection of data that represents our online presence. Take a moment to search your name online, and you can find examples of posts and articles, images of you and family or colleagues, videos, tweets, public records data, as well as links to your profiles in professional organizations and on social media and other online platforms. If you don’t assess your digital footprint regularly, you should.

As you search you’ll recognize not only information that you’ve put online but also information added by others—by colleagues and friends, and also by virtue of your having participated in public events. If you were to look even closer at what the public can see on your social media accounts (and you should), you might find comments that others post about you, geolocation information that you broadcast, and even images that you didn’t know were publicly available. Your online information may not be as private as you thought. Your digital footprint yields information about you; your online reputation is how that information is interpreted by others to form an opinion of you as a person.

Lesson plan: Cleaning Up Your Online Presence

  • Search for your name and other identifiers with Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Spokeo
  • Subscribe to Google Alerts to receive an email as soon as your search phrase (such as your name, school, or work) enters Google’s index
  • Work together with friends who aren’t in your social networks to check your work
  • Ensure everything online complements your reputation
  • Frequently check and update your social media privacy settings

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