I remember buying a book on how to write the perfect resume. Sure, this was back in the day when information came mainly in written form, and recommendations included high quality paper choice and choosing the right type font. Still, nearly every time I go to Kinkos I see people laboring over a paper choice; amazing.
Here is a news alert for you: YOUR WHOLE LIFE IS A RESUME AND YOU HAD BETTER READ IT!
When I was a young salesman, my dad use to tell me that it was important to wear the proper shoes and drive the right car. “They don’t know your family, where you live or who you voted for, but they will evaluate you by your shoes and a car – that’s the ticket.” It should be noted that at eighteen I was driving a brand new Oldsmobile Toronado; red with white leather. I also took a keen interest in Italian shoes way before my time, but that is another story.
We tell our reputationadvocate.com clients that the necessity to put their best foot forward is still essential but it’s a whole new world. “Your best foot” is now electronic and global. It is not primarily anything you have put in print; it’s not even your speaking in the first person. Even without your knowledge, here is what can be found out about you quickly:
Where you live:
The white pages are electronic. Any public social site you have joined is a potential gateway to your address and phone number.
What your house looks like and what it’s worth:
Have you heard of Zillow.com? Virtual appraisals, recent sales, and if your house is currently for sale. How about Google Maps – is your house on an acre lot, one or two stories, do you have a swimming pool, a garage, property taxes?
Who are your neighbors?
Grab an address from Zillow, log in to a reverse append address site and enter the address. See what comes up. Google them. Who are they and what is their resume?
What you have given to political campaigns – contributions by amount, candidate and party.
What you read:
It can be found on Facebook, Anobii, Reddit, Amazon; there are hundreds of book reading sites.
Memberships, if lists are published. Fraternities, sororities, associations and clubs.
Anyone can find this type of information out quickly with just a little effort. HR directors and headhunters are particularly quick. So if you’ve applied for a job and you don’t get a call back, you may want to take a look at the information they are finding. All of this combines to build an online resume. You can methodically create content or your content will certainly create a perception of you. It’s your choice.
This type of transparency can be both threatening and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Utilizing various websites, blogs and social sites, you can choose to disclose aspects of your life that others will find helpful in evaluating who “you” are. In the same way that you would painstakingly work through a printed resume, lay out a plan for your online content.
Reputationadvocate.com can help you define what information will be presented. Education, community and social activities, interests, travel, family and work history can all add up to build a very positive online “you”. If you have published research for school or work, find a channel to publish it online. Select pictures that present you in the most favorable light possible. Grammar, punctuation and sentence structure – all of the same components used in a written resume – are needed in building a strong online presence.
And here’s one final thought. Have someone proof for you. While asking for help in proofing a written resume seems logical, most people don’t take it into consideration when they create online content. Since most sites do not have spelling and grammar checking functions, the probability for error is high. Nothing reflects quite as poorly on someone as when important information has errors. Take the time to have someone read the content as soon as it is posted up. Get comments back and then edit and correct errors immediately. Remember, what you post goes “live” to the world once you hit Enter.
Steven C. Wyer is the Managing Director of Reputation Advocate, LLC (reputationadvocate.com) The firm specializes in online reputation repair for both individuals and companies. Steven Wyer can be reached at 888-229-0746.
As far back as May of 2005, Oprah, the darling of day time television, has been ruthlessly attacked morning, noon and night. She is not even safe as she sleeps behind guarded gates and personal security. Despite her estimated billion dollar net worth, she is helpless to defend herself.
First there is oprahsucks.com. There are multiple posts, comments and even a mailing list for this series of attacks. Debbie Schlussel, a conservative political commentator, radio talk show host, columnist, and attorney owns this website and wastes no time in letting her opinion be known.
Then there are the multiple YouTube attacks on Oprah. There are forums, blogs, posts on many different content sites and a dedicated website just so people can voice their distain for her.
Adding insult to injury, this week the stalwart publication Newsweek has come out against the global media diva. She has been attacked through virtually every form of media, but none has given voice to the masses more than the internet. What is the source of my information you may ask? Google. Simple, straight forward search results. Had these types of results been found for a small business owner or business professional, their career would most likely have been ruined. Fortunately, the big “O” has enough money to simply ignore these complaints.
Ordinary, small businesses cannot afford to ignore online attacks. Doctors, lawyers and officers of public companies are severely impacted by online complaints. Even state and national government officials cannot combat this new form of slander. Conventional approaches to reputation management issues simply do not work and ignoring such online information simply supports perceptions that such claims are true.
Fortunately, there are now reputation management service providers that represent clients against negative search engine results. These reputation advocates operate under yet another acronym; SERM. Search Engine Reputation Management professionals bring a unique set of skills and address these complaint sites and negative postings with unconventional discretion. This service business is sure to experience significant growth over the next few years as these online search attacks grow in number and veracity
While the super stars and the super rich simply brush aside attacks on their character, most cannot. As real income and real opportunity are impacted, all professionals must monitor their online presence and manage the content found. Very few of us can simply say “O” well…
Have you ever spent three days working on a document, a very important document? First draft, improvements. Second draft, more corrections and edits. It’s a lot of work.
Paranoid about your work disappearing without warning, you have been diligently hitting “save”. There’s a battery backup plugged in, so that even if there is a power outage you are covered. Your document, a seminal work that represents your life, is protected from all angles.
Then you hear it–a funny sound, a little smoke–the screen goes dark, and nothing. This has got to be a bad dream, you think, so you press the power button hard, several times. Still nothing. You hadn’t thought much about a failure at the foundation of everything; about your hard drive crashing.
Life is a lot like this nightmare. You work hard to build integrity, character and position. You know these are important for your persona, for who people know you to be, for your reputation. Public service, civic organizations, your education and vocation all represent the sum total of days, week and years of investment. And you’ve got it all backed up to. Credit, social network, peers and friends have been assembled over a lifetime and present a very positive picture of who you are known to be.
But then there is an unhappy customer, a disgruntled employee, a jaded relationship and a puff of smoke appears. That funny little sound is coming from customers, friends, or family. You can’t identify it but you know it’s there. Then, a dark screen–lost business, difficulty being hired and a hit to your income. You hit the power button, check your credit score, ask around but you can’t figure it out. You hadn’t thought much about failure at the foundation of your reputation; an online attack.
Your online reputation may well be the most vulnerable place in your life. Because anyone is free to post an opinion on the Internet, it can hurt. While you may cry foul and protest the accuracy of the information, it will be hard to recall. The worst part is that you cannot easily assess the damage. Because when people read something negative, they don’t pick up the phone to confirm the accuracy of what has been posted, they just go elsewhere.
So take a just a moment and do a search on yourself, your company and those close to you. Be aware of what is out there. Then, either clean it up or live with it.
–Steven Wyer, Reputation Advocate