Be mindful of your online reputation when job hunting

Online profiles can create bad impression

ashelton@herald-leader.comJuly 21, 2013 

CAMERON LOVE — Herald-Leader

After you polish up your résumé and double check the grammar and spelling in your cover letter, it might be a good idea to clean up your social media before applying for a job.

Job seekers with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vine and other social network accounts need to monitor what is said about them on their profiles and on search engines.

"When searching a candidate's social profile some companies look for inappropriate videos, statements using profanity, pictures or posts of being intoxicated and so forth," said Lenroy Jones, University of Kentucky associate director for James W. Stuckert Career Center.

"A candidate can go through the process and be a great person with an amazing background and résumé, but if you search her Facebook or Twitter and see bad things you're probably not going to get nor keep a job."

Fortunately, there are companies that can help you fix your online image, and steps you can take on your own.

BrandYourself.com CEO Patrick Ambron said anyone can be the victim of false or negative posts.

"This guy from New York had a lifestyle business," he explained. "He was a very nice guy. Somewhere down the line a random guy started making up lies about this nice young man. He wanted the nice man to pay him $25,000 to stop writing those inaccurate accusations."

Ambron has seen all kinds of false reputations such as people being portrayed as porn stars, drug dealers or criminals.

Along with co-founder Pete Kistler, Ambron created BrandYourself.com, a website where you create an account and are given the tools to fix your online reputation for free. If you need more help, you can try the concierge service for $80 a year which includes more links and features.

The site works like this: submit the profiles or links you want people to see when they Google you; follow the steps to make those links or profiles rank higher on Google; and then track your progress. You'll be given a search score which monitors how many good or bad things are said about you on your first search page. Finally you will be given a search alert when an unidentified source is listed on your first search page.

If you are concerned because you feel your image has been consistently dragged through the mud, then try Reputation.com. Founder Michael Fertik created the company in 2006. It works with small businesses and individuals to help create a professional online image, tackle inaccurate online information and monitor your progress and results.

Entry-level services cost from $10 to $100.

Both companies use search engine optimization (SEO) to protect you. The gist of an SEO is to promote a positive website or story and enhance the flow of traffic the website collects from search engines. That way, people see your cleaned up profile and accurate information about you before they see problematic posts.

There are also ways to fix your profile information yourself.

Go to the privacy settings at the top of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and change who can or can't see your profile and manage past posts. Check the Internet regularly searching for your name.

Kentucky State University graduate Paige Coleman recently searched her name and found some shocking results.

"When I searched my name I saw a criminal and a random female who shared my name. I was surprised to say the least."

To find out what the Internet is saying about you, go to Google.com/alerts to set up alerts on Google and be notified when something is being said about you or your company.

You can also create your own website, using resources such as Wordpress.com.

Lastly, consider deleting your existing profiles. If you can't live without a social network, you can always start over. Just make sure to take proper precautions from the start.

Alysee Shelton (859) 231-1330 Twitter: @heraldleader

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