Online Reputation Management for College Students
Whatever your major, there’s one course you should consider taking: “rep man,” or reputation management. A good online reputation is becoming increasingly important for students as more employers routinely use Internet searches as part of the hiring process. In response, some colleges are starting to offer rep man classes and services as part of their educational offerings. But whether or not you actually hear about it in a class room, online reputation management for college students is important to consider.
Why enroll in a rep man course?
In today’s competitive business environment, it’s not always enough to have good job skills and a shiny academic record. Though employers are certainly looking for relevant skills and experience, they also look for a variety of personal values and characteristics, such as honesty, integrity and professionalism.
Employers certainly use the interview process to find these qualities in candidates, but they’ve also increasingly begun to use the Internet to gather information that might not come up in an interview. A good online reputation will go a long way toward helping you land that job. A bad online reputation, however, could also cause an otherwise competent and qualified candidate to be passed over.
A 2009 Microsoft-sponsored study revealed that 79 percent of US job recruiters and hiring managers use the Internet to research potential job candidates. With numbers like these, students should make their online reputations and “personal brands” a primary concern. Those who do will have a natural advantage in the job market upon graduation, regardless of their degrees. Online reputation management for college students leads to online reputation management for graduates.
Potential employers will Google you.
As college students prepare to enter the job market, they should begin considering several online reputation factors. Start by Googling yourself to see what comes up in the search results. Ideally, a digital resumé should appear at the top. Sites like LinkedIn allow you to highlight your accomplishments and post an online resumé.
It’s also almost inevitable that your profiles on social networking sites (like Facebook) will also appear in the results. Though a carelessly managed Facebook profile could derail a job opportunity, a thoughtfully maintained profile could be an advantage. Upbeat posts, relevant interests and professional friends all register positively to a potential employer. Whether sharing photos online or engaging in discussion forums, it’s important to pay attention to what you’re posting. At the very least, learn about the privacy settings on social networking sites and use them appropriately.
Your resumé versus your online reputation
Though a good resumé is still important, your online reputation often tells more about who you really are than the file you attach to your cover letter. In today’s tight job market, hiring managers and recruiters receive many more applications than they have jobs. As a result they might not have the time to read every detail of your resumé. If a candidate catches their eye, however, you can bet they will at least perform a cursory search for that person online. That search could lead to an interview and possibly a job offer if the hiring manager likes what s/he sees.
Build a solid online reputation.
Even if your college doesn’t offer a rep man course, there are still steps you can take to improve your online reputation. Internet reputation management is all about your “personal brand.” So, online reputation management for college students is just about managing what online content is associate with your name.
As with businesses and products, reputation protection is also important to one’s personal brand. Your online presence should tell a positive story about who you are. Activity that might introduce negative publicity, erroneous information or other damaging material should be avoided. Focus on adding fresh content to your online resumés, social networking sites and other online venues. By doing so you’ll be doing your “rep man” homework — even if your college doesn’t yet offer this important course of study.
Susan Campbell is an independent privacy consultant for ReputationDefender and author of several articles on online privacy.