Although there are a lot of good articles out there explaining how important your online reputation is, I want to add my own voice to the cautionary advice. Whether now or down the road, what you say online can keep you from getting the job you want.
I don’t think people realize how quickly impressions are formed, especially when it comes to the world of work. Even promotions can be hurt by your boss or HR googling your name and finding things that make people wonder about you. And if you’re thinking it’s not fair, you may be right. But that’s beside the point.
Your online reputation reveals more than you think
Your online reputation helps fill in “who is this person” gaps for current and potential employers. Also for coworkers and friends. Even if what they find through a simple search tells a story that is way off base or only a small part of the whole story, they are getting to see a real part of you. And it sticks.
And the worst part is that once the info is out there, how much your online “who am I” persona influences your chances for success are out of your control. But the good news is that from now on you do have control of what you put out into the google-able online world — and what it is others see.
If you want doors to open doors, don’t close them yourself
While it feels great to blow off steam or share a few fun pics of yourself (maybe not at your professional best), your online reputation lives on way beyond the moment. Some momentary wtf urges where you tell all or show all can ruin opportunities for years to come — and leave lasting impressions.
Sure, we’ve all had the desire to spill our thoughts to the world. Letting emotions out feels good. And it can be cathartic. Plus you can get easy, often much-needed comfort and validation from others. [Good follow-up question to ask yourself is “How much validation outside myself do I really need?”]
But you can also get that by telling friends or a good therapist — or just writing it all down and saving for your journal. As they saying goes, discretion is the better part of valor. And with maturity comes discretion. A very useful thing for your career toolkit!
So what can you do if your online reputation is hurting you?
Well, first stop and think from now on before you publish. Not to in any way impede your free speech. Just make sure you understand the trade-off when it comes to how a potential employer sees you. What you say about one boss is what you will say about another, as they see it.
And your free-to-be-me posts or tweets or whatever may feel great — self expression is wonderful. But, to an outsider, it may also show a lot of pent up anger or immaturity or simply high maintenance. None of that is top on an employer’s list of ideal employee traits.
Luckily, there are ways to help yourself if any of this is getting in the way of you getting a new job or even moving up in your current one. Here are some articles from other sites with good tips to get you started:
Final thoughts about your online reputation
Think first. Remember that things on the internet can live on forever — as can first impressions. Imagine the first impression a potential employer gets when they google your name. (Try it yourself.) And instead cultivate a real self online that you are proud of and has nothing to hide from anyone. 🙂
It is so wonderful be part of the world wide web. If being bold and outspoken works for you, by all means go for it. But please make sure you are the one in control of how the world sees you. And that you can live with that impression, even many years from now.
More posts to help
And if you do need to quit your job