Managing Your Professional Online Reputation


Cultivate a winning digital footprint to ensure career success.

The digital media revolution has transformed the way we communicate. From status updates to blog posts to pinning to photo sharing, social media is quickly becoming a top leisure activity for many Americans. It has also become a key component of human resource initiatives. In fact, according to a recent survey from Jobvite, 89 percent of U.S. companies either use or are planning to use social media to support recruiting efforts.

We’ve long since said adieu to the days when all you needed to worry about was whether your resume and cover letter were typo-free. Today’s job seekers are well aware that technology allows them to thoroughly research employers, hiring managers and even rival candidates. Few people, however, take into account the wealth of information recruiters can dig up about them with just a few clicks of the mouse.

As social recruitment takes center stage, understanding how to manage your online reputation is more important than ever. But you have more control than you think. Here are a few tips on how to cultivate a winning digital footprint to ensure your online presence helps – not hinders – your job prospects.

Take Stock: Evaluate what kind of digital impression you are making. Search your name on all major search engines and social networking sites. If you have a common name, combine your search with your home city, alma mater or recent employer. This will allow you to determine the kind of online presence you are presenting and help you map out what steps to take next.

Acknowledge and Take Action: Remove any questionable content you’ve posted in the past. Consider changing the privacy settings on social networking and photo sharing sites and block user ability to comment. If you have a personal website or blog, take a closer look at all the information you’ve presented about yourself. Delete any content that would reflect poorly on you and contact site administrators if you don’t maintain the site yourself. You may find that some information cannot be deleted; in these cases, be prepared to explain any unflattering content to a hiring manager.

Tap Your Social Connections: Studies show that over 60 percent of jobs are landed through employee referrals. Use Facebook and LinkedIn to stay connected to those in your industry and be sure to share insight or newsworthy information as it pertains to your profession; this is your way of building your personal online brand.

Stay Active: As you begin to establish a positive digital footprint online and in social media networks, keep up with it. When commenting in any Internet forum, be sure to watch what you say. Avoid getting caught up in heated debates on polarizing issues. Never make critical comments about employers or colleagues. Realize it’s okay to be selective about who you bring into your online network. Consider activating Google Alert e-mails to let you know when new information about you surfaces.

Pulse up the Positive: Showcase your positive attributes by sharing professional expertise and pursuing noteworthy interests online. Comment on relevant forum posts and blogs in a thoughtful way that will highlight your talents and ideas. Consider joining an industry organization; Chicago Interactive Marketing Association (CIMA) is an example of a professional organization that any marketing professional would benefit from joining to bulk up her resume, attend educational events and network with other like-minded executives in the industry. Details on meetings you attend or an article you wrote for the association’s newsletter or website is likely to paint you in a positive light and continue to develop your personal brand.


About Camille Fetter

Camille Fetter is founder/managing partner of TalentFoot, a Chicago-based executive search firm dedicated to servicing digital marketing, online media and advertising sales professionals. She also serves as the executive vice president of corporate relations for the Chicago Interactive Marketing Association. An interactive marketing recruiter for almost 10 years, Ms. Fetter has repeatedly matched stellar candidates with blue-chip clients.