At the time it seemed like a good idea, so you posted photos on Facebook or MySpace of you streaking across campus following a drunken party. Or, maybe that posed shot suggesting you were engaging in a sex act with a llama was a hit with all your online friends, and even brought you more admirers. But now school is open, the job market beckons and those memories are better left forgotten. Fortunately, Michael Zammuto Reputation Changer President and online reputation management expert, says there are a number of ways to put those negative postings in the past.
Delete, Hide and Bury
The first line of attack is to get in there and delete all questionable posts on social networks like MySpace, Twitter and of course Facebook. With its soaring popularity, Facebook is often the first place a prospective employer will go to learn something about you, so it is important to expend some energy cleaning up what’s on your page. Another great tool available to Facebook users is the site’s privacy settings, and you need to get those privacy settings locked down. At a minimum you need to make sure your posts are only shared with friends. And if you’ve been tagged in anyone else’s dicey pictures, click on the picture, choose options and click “I want to untag myself.”
But what about negatives about you on the internet that has come from another source, say an arrest for underage drinking that was reported in the local paper, or a rant from an angry ex that shows up when your name is entered into a search? Some will say you should write letters asking individuals or organizations to remove those postings, but is that realistic? Instead, bear in mind that most people never look beyond the first 3 pages of search results. So the best defense here is to push the negative results down by posting information that’s more current and favorable.
Use Images to Improve Yours
If you have photos taken on a vacation to the Caribbean showing blue waters and sunsets, or if you have visited a great city and want to share the sights you captured there, do it! The internet offers some great photo sharing sites like Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr and photobucket. By adding your name to all the beautiful and innocent pictures, you increase the likelihood that people will find those photos more alluring. And that will spin a positive tale of who you are.
Change It Up
You have had a social media profile under the name of Bobby Smith since, well forever. If you are entering the job market it may be a good idea to use Robert Smith on your resume, and create new profiles under that name. Then you can somewhat correct the sins of the past by posting materials that will reflect well on you if a potential employer plugs your name into a search engine.
If all that fails, online reputation management expert Michael Zammuto says there are services available that can do the work of cleaning up your image. That way there’s little to be concerned about when it comes to what will be found when someone searches for your name on the internet.