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Online reputation

How to protect your digital brand

You create an image of yourself online through the information you share, and then others can add their own opinions (good or bad). It’s important to know that anyone can find this information and use it to judge you.

If it’s online, it’s out there

From photos, links and videos to comments, almost everything you post and say online can have an impact on how you're perceived — both professionally and personally. In today's digital world, your "online reputation" is more relevant and important than ever.

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Almost half of U.S. adults look someone up online before doing business with him or her.

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You’re right.

42 percent of U.S. adults look someone up online before doing business with him or her. (And 90% of executive recruiters do, too.)

Actually, it’s true.

42 percent of U.S. adults look someone up online before doing business with him or her. (And 90% of executive recruiters do, too.)

It all adds up

If you’ve done any of the following online, you may have made a misstep without realizing it.

  1. Shared personal, private or confidential information
  2. Used poor grammar or incorrect spelling
  3. Posted inappropriate or offensive messages, images, photos or videos
  4. Made discriminatory remarks
  5. Posted negative comments about previous or current teachers, professors or employers
  6. Shared any content involving alcohol, drugs, lewd acts or criminal behavior

Think twice before posting anything that could potentially harm your reputation. Remember that your own activity is only part of the picture. Make sure your friends and family understand how important your reputation is too, to help avoid unintended consequences on their behalf.

Why reputation matters

According to Forbes, 15% of adults have at least one negative result surface about them on the very first Google result page.1 Take a look at some of the ways your online information can be held against you:

Schools and employers

  • Over 70 percent United States-based employers are reported to actively research online information about their applicants.2
  • What employers find can influence whether you're chosen for a job over someone else
  • Even once you start a new job, employers may continue to monitor you on social media.

Personal relationships

  • Family, friends, partners, spouses and future boyfriends or girlfriends may also see information or photos you post online.
  • Be sure to consider how your posts may affect the people in your life.



How serious is this really?

More than you might think. According to CareerBuilder2, 54% of employers decide not to hire based on their social media profiles. Reasons include :

  • Posting provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information: 39 percent
  • Posting information about them drinking or using drugs: 38 percent
  • Posting discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion: 32 percent
  • Bad-mouthing their previous company or fellow employee: 30 percent
  • Lying about qualifications: 27 percent
  • Having poor communication skills: 27 percent
  • Being linked to criminal behavior: 26 percent
  • Sharing confidential information from previous employers: 23 percent
  • Having unprofessional screen names: 22 percent
  • Lying about an absence: 17 percent
  • Posting too frequently: 17 percent


Other potential concerns

Information about you on the internet may also compromise your safety. For example, sites and apps that track and post your whereabouts in real time can expose you to potential risks — like alerting would-be thieves that you're away from home.

Protect yourself.

  • Ensure that privacy and security settings allow personal access only to trusted family and friends
  • Change your passwords frequently
  • Don’t share sensitive private files with other users
  • Don’t share your birth date or Social Security number

Digital damage control

The message is simple : Use common sense. Social media is here to stay, so focus on eliminating or minimizing anything you wouldn't want others to see.

Think ahead : Be careful of what you put online. Know that anyone can access it.

Be proactive and positive : Establish a strong and positive presence online. Do your best not to be overly critical of others or get caught up in social media debates.

Inform your friends and family : Make sure that others are not posting unflattering photos or notes about you.

Secure everything : Protect your accounts and financial information from hackers. Never reveal unnecessary personal information online.

Monitor your reputation : Search your own name periodically to see how you appear online. Be sure to review everything being posted by or about you.

Clean up past mistakes : Though it may not always be possible to remove everything, do your best to delete any potentially damaging comments, posts, photos or videos.

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