First Impressions Online Matter!

February 13, 2024

What impression will someone who doesn’t know you get based on what they see and read about you online? More and more employers collect information online about job applicants and screen out individuals based on what they find.

You’ve submitted a carefully crafted résumé. Your skills and experience match the job requirements perfectly. You think to yourself, “I’m guaranteed a call back,” and yet the recruiter has already disqualified your application!

You may have been disqualified because of your online reputation. Any information about you in blogs, social networks, comments, tweets, videos, and links make up your online reputation.

How is it used to get a job?

It’s as simple as a Google or Facebook search. When surveyed in a Career Builder’s annual survey, most U.S. hiring managers say they review online reputations of job applicants. And they take their findings seriously.

Top 5 Disqualifiers:

  • Provocative or unsuitable photos, videos, or information
  • Information about job applicant drinking or using drugs
  • Inappropriate comments related to race, gender, religion, etc.
  • Inappropriate comments about previous employer or a fellow employee
  • Weak communication skills

How do I manage my online reputation?

First, see what others see. Start by searching for your name by putting your name in quotation marks in popular search engines such as Google. Include your hometown if you have a common name. Also run your name through popular social media sites (remember to log out of your account to see what others see). Don’t forget to look at accounts you no longer use but that still exist. You may find that the internet “remembers” things you have long forgotten about.

Also, look at what others have posted about you. What do they say about you in comments? What videos or photos are they sharing that feature you?

Did your results present you in a light you want others to see? Does your search present a person entirely different from the professional persona in your résumé or application? Would someone be offended by what they’ve learned about you online, or worried about your ability to be a good and successful employee?

You may find out that your online personal life is much more public than you would like. You may even decide that you would like to better advertise your achievements and good character.


Use these tips to help protect your online reputation:

  • THINK before you share.
  • Delete inactive accounts. This prevents your information from being hijacked or embarrassing you later.
  • Talk with your friends and family about what you do or don’t want shared. Honor their privacy and reputation as well.
  • Consider untagging yourself from photos.
  • Sign up for personal alerts tied to mentions of your name or other personal information.
  • Continue monitoring your reputation. Consider this regular maintenance like changing the oil in your car, or online spring-cleaning.
  • Do something about it quickly. The longer the bad information is there, the more susceptible you are to having it spread or archived.

Take your online reputation seriously, or someone else will.

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