Online Reputation: The New Curriculum Vitae?
Reputation is everything. Even more so in the digital age.
When employers and employees can look each other up in a matter of seconds, and see exactly who they are and (more importantly) what they think, a CV with all the right credentials can pale in comparison to social media posts.
In this post, we’ll review some of the most important changes that have unfolded in the past few years. And we’ll also show you how to leverage your online reputation to get better jobs and better clients.
Let’s take a look!
More than Memes: Why Your Online Reputation Matters
There are two things that companies today look for in job candidates:
- Culture fit
Now, qualifications can be easily gauged from resumes. But they are not enough to determine someone’s culture fit. Will they work well with other employees? Are they focused on their job, or do they spend hours on social media?
And most importantly: how do they think?
Is the job candidate creative and keeps up with the industry changes, or do they share distasteful memes and inappropriate personal information?
It’s a universally acknowledged truth that having the right skills for the job goes far, but your personality is what will actually win over employers.
Online reputation says a lot about your identity, which is why:
- 70% of employers use social media as a candidate screening tool (Source)
- 45% of them use it to find out more about your qualifications (Source)
- 44% want to see if a candidate is creative (Source)
- 51% of employers check candidates’ social media to determine the culture fit (Source)
- 43% of employers even use social media to check up on their current employees (Source)
To put it simply: your online reputation shows if you put your money where your mouth is.
And employers care.
According to a Career Builder study from 2017, employers have opted out of hiring qualified candidates because they:
- Posted inappropriate or provocative videos and photos
- Posted about drinking and using drugs
- Posted about and were linked to criminal behavior
- Made discriminatory comments
- Bad-mouthed their previous company or colleagues and shared confidential information
- Lied about their qualifications and it was visible from their social media profiles
- Lied about absences
- Had poor communication skills
However, social recruitment is not all that bad.
The same study showed that candidates’ social media profiles also led to employers hiring them even if they previously hadn’t been too keen on the idea.
More than 44% of employers have hired candidates for what they saw on social media, and it included:
- Background information which supported qualifications stated in the CV
- Great communication skills
- A professional image
Now, you may think that it’s completely unfair that potential employers are “spying” on you.
However, you have to understand that it’s not a matter of spying – it’s a matter of determining if you’re the right fit.
You wouldn’t work with someone you don’t know anything about if you can help it. Even 59% of job seekers use social media to screen potential employers.
And while you could be hired based on your qualifications alone, having a good online reputation can help you improve your chances of landing that dream job with all the right perks.
How to Improve Your Online Reputation
If your online reputation is the new curriculum vitae, you have to approach it the right way.
1. Don’t Delete Your Social Media Profiles
Maybe your gut reaction is deleting your social media profiles and “defending” yourself against employers’ research.
However, 47% of employers won’t even consider your application if they can’t find you online. A CV packed with qualifications and experience seems flimsy if there’s no information about you on Google or on social networks.
At the same time, you’d be losing out on a valuable opportunity to demonstrate your personality and win your employer over with your online presence.
A better course of action is making all the profiles you use to informally communicate with friends and family private.
Then, curate your public profiles with your professional image in mind.
It’s simply a matter of compartmentalizing. Choose where you want to show your personal image and keep it to your friends and family, and where you want to come across as the right person for the job.
2. Know What Employers Look for In Your Profiles
When they look at your social media, employers mainly want to know that they’re making the right decision.
They’re primarily looking for consistency.
If you’ve told them that you’re an extroverted person, they want to see proof of that. You can’t claim you’re the right person for the job in sales because you’re “soooo extroverted” and then post about hating people on Twitter.
While you should never lie in an interview, most of us sometimes have the tendency to embellish our personalities and achievements. Social media is good for sussing out those who haven’t just sugarcoated but outright lied.
The same goes for consistency in qualifications and skills.
If you claim to be a good communicator and diplomatic, it’s going to be strange if you frequently get into fights over the tiniest things.
You could say you graduated from one university when you haven’t – especially if you have completely different credentials on your LinkedIn, and connections to prove it.
Honesty is the best policy, and employers know it.
Your social media profiles also say a lot about your personal brand.
No, drinking a glass of wine or two when you’re unwinding on a Friday night is nothing to be ashamed of. However, posting pictures of drunken parties when you’re 35 years old and want to compete for a managerial position is not going to be taken lightly by HR.
Mainly because no one in teams really wants to work with people who come hungover to work on Monday and can’t take care of their tasks.
According to Workopolis, other content you should be careful with on social media includes:
- References to illegal drugs (83% of employers are turned off by that)
- Posts of a sexual nature (71%)
- Profanity (65%)
- Bad spelling and grammar (61%)
- References to guns (51%)
- Photos of consuming alcohol (47%)
So instead of posting about getting wasted last weekend, try posting about something that shows how creative you are.
44% of hiring managers are looking for creative candidates when hiring. There’s never enough good problem solvers to go around.
Yes, writing poetry may not be related to your IT job, but it’ll definitely show you have hobbies and are creative by nature.
3. Clean Up Your Social Media
Again, the right answer isn’t deleting your social media. It’s curating your online persona.
The easiest way to do it is by cleaning up your social media.
If you’ve had your Facebook account since you were 12 years old (like many Millennials), you shouldn’t just shut it down or make it private if it has useful content that employers would love to see.
Instead, simply clean it up.
Go through your old posts and remove everything that no longer fits with the persona you’re trying to present to the world and embody in your professional life.
Allowing your employers to connect with you on social media may not always be a good idea, but it can bring you closer – especially if you don’t post anything potentially harmful.
As Liz Bentley, a career columnist at Marie Claire, states:
“Your profiles are an opportunity to showcase your skills, interests, and network, along with the fact that you’re savvy with social media.”
You can tell the story of your life through social media, which can come in handy not only when seeking employment, but when creating your personal brand and marketing your skills to the world.
Cleaning up your profile and creating a personal brand is especially important on career-oriented social networks like LinkedIn.
Spruce up your LinkedIn (and your online reputation) by:
- Listing relevant experiences
- Asking for (skill) recommendations from previous employers and colleagues
- Posting content about your industry
- Posting content related to your personal interests
- Adding professional photos and background images
- Writing an interesting headline and summary
Don’t forget to also search for yourself on all social networks, especially ones where you’ve decided to keep your profile public (and as such, visible to employers).
This way, you’ll make sure that no one else has posted unfavorable content about you.
4. Use Thought Leadership to Give Your Online Reputation a Boost
While we’ve focused on defense so far, it’s time to start focusing on offense.
When it comes to your online reputation, be proactive.
Digital is everything these days so if your potential employers see you’re writing interesting content endorsed by thousands, they’ll see you in a different light.
The suit may not maket the man, but it certainly increases his value.
Thought leadership can help you:
- Position yourself as an expert in the industry
- Connect with like-minded people (some of which may be your future employers or clients)
- Increase your influence
- Improve other people’s awareness of your brand
- Get more opportunities
You can market your skills just like a company would market their product. And with every endorsement, the employers’ value perception of your skills rises.
Hiring someone with good qualifications but very small digital footprint and no influence is not the same as hiring someone with good qualifications and plenty of influence.
When they hire a thought influencer, companies are considered thought leaders by proxy. Their sales grow, and so does their influence on the market.
It’s a win-win for everyone.
You can become a thought leader and improve your online reputation by:
- Posting insightful content about your industry (for example, writing about your experiences and drawing takeaways others can use)
- Connecting with other influencers in your space
- Building your credibility with guest posting
Most importantly: show the passion you have for your job. There’s nothing like seeing that the candidate is enthusiastic to make an employer say: “Yes, you’re hired!”
5. Keep Going
If you’ve cleaned up your social media, made all your personal profiles private, or if you’ve been hired, that doesn’t mean the work is done.
Online reputation is the new curriculum vitae exactly because it keeps up with your personal progress. It’s not like a CV that you refresh every once in a while to add a new qualification.
Your online reputation is right there with you so it is incredibly important to keep improving it.
Share what’s happening in your professional life. What new things have you learned lately, and what wisdom have you gotten from them? How have you improved?
What have you been working on? If there’s nothing significant in your career, is there something significant in your personal life?
Hobbies are always a good thing to show on your profiles as they help prove you’re a creative and passionate individual even after the working day is done. Community involvement also says volumes about your personality.
Be careful of what you like and share on social media.
Likes are equal to endorsements so be extremely mindful. Forgo mindless scrolling and tapping for consuming and sharing content that you actually think and care about.
Take a deep breath before you post.
There are some seriously frustrating days that can make you want to vent about your colleagues or superiors online. However, take a deep breath and reconsider. Could the post be taken in a negative light? Can the people from your company see it?
Finally, know your company’s social media policy.
Play by the rules and don’t post anything that could be misconstrued.
Instead, post about things that show you in the best light. Not only will your employers and colleagues value you more, but you’ll also get a plethora of new opportunities.
Today it’s your LinkedIn.
Tomorrow, it’ll be the world.