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These days, it’s crucial for college grads seeking jobs to have an online reputation that’s as clean as a whistle. I’m an online-security and ID theft expert, so trust me when I say that yes, employers DO take into account what you did at that party during your sophomore year.
Here’s what you, the new college grad, can do to clean up and protect your reputation in the online world.
How College Grads Can Clean up Their Online Reputation
A prospective employer will likely Google your name, then read the sites it’s on. And don’t assume that you’re protected by a “Joe Smith” kind of name. An astute employer will find the right Joe Smith.
One of the first things a new college grad should do, to prepare for a job interview, is to prepare for what the person hiring is likely to do (either before or after the interview): look you up online.
Find out what people are saying about you in cyberspace. Use a tool like Google Alerts, Topsy, Social Mention and Sysmosys, among others. Monitor these on a daily basis.
If your own search turns up nothing bad about you on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and other biggies, this doesn’t mean nothing bad exists. Go deeper into the search results. Type in your middle name or just initial, or some associative fact like hometown name, to see if that alters results.
Cleaning up your online reputation, then, begins with seeing if it needs to be cleaned up in the first place. This is more important for a college grad than, say, getting that perfect manicure for job interviews or that perfect hair tinting job.
The prospective employer these days may be more interested in what your name pulls up in search engines than how perfectly coordinated your shoes are with your power suit.
Being digitally proactive keeps your online presence clean.
- Digital security is a must. We’ve all read about politicians, celebrities, news organizations and major corporations who’ve been hacked and negative stuff was posted from their accounts. Even when you regain control of your hacked account, those unwanted posts can leave searchable breadcrumbs. Make sure your devices are protected with antivirus, antispyware, antiphishing and a firewall. If you are accessing free Wifi connections, make sure you use Hotspot Shield VPN to secure your online communications.
- New college grads should invest time picking apart their Facebook page and any other kind of social media where they have the ability to change what’s on it. Delete anything relating to drinking, sex, drugs, being tired all the time, political and religious views, use of offensive words, anything that fails to benefit your reputation online.
- Even a comment like “Old people are bad drivers” can kill your chances of landing a job. Think before you post.
- Unfortunately, if someone has posted something negative about you on their blog, there’s nothing you can do unless you want to pay something like $2,000 to hire a company to knock negative Google results deep into the search pages (a prospective employer probably will not go past a few pages deep once they locate information about you). But paying someone is a viable option you should consider.
- A college grad can protect their online reputation by never using their name when signing up for a forum board where they may make posts that, to a prospective employer, make the job seeker look bad. If you want to post on the comments page for Fox Sports, for instance, don’t use your real name.
- Don’t even use your real name for signing onto support sites for medical conditions, for that matter. You just never know what may rub a prospective employer the wrong way.
The college grad’s reputation needs to appear as perfect and “pure” as possible in the online world.