In 30 minutes, your SSN can be dug out using free internet resources. Recruiters sniff the net for personal data about you and base their hiring decisions on what they read. This can mean good news or bad news, depending on what kind of online reputation you have. Here’s what you should do to ensure your online presence is stigma free.
1. Check For Activity Around Your Name
Monitor online activity connected to your name; Google yourself frequently. Set up an RSS news feed for your full name. Read the feeds now and then to know if your name is coming up in any news stories or blogs.
2. Make Sure You’re Not Mistaken For Someone Else
Register a domain name under your full name. Also, register as a member on every social networking site using your full name. By doing these, you can ensure that someone else does not falsely set up their online presence using your name.
3. Watch What You Post
Sometimes, the most innocuous entry can work against you, and most of the time, these entries are made by you. Recruiters watch out for online mentions and eliminate candidates based on what they find on the web. So if you’re unhappy about your job and want to crib, don’t do it online.
4. Create A Positive Digital Presence
Don’t ever let someone else establish your online reputation. You should do it yourself. Set up a clean, positive image through professional and social networking profiles, personal blog and professional website. This is your personal insurance against potential damage. Being digitally non-existent is just as detrimental to one’s reputation as having a bad digital presence.
5. Use Google Profiles To Direct Search Results
Use Google Profiles to maneuver what appears first on search results. Use this tool to add positive connections to your profiles. Use professional pictures, link to good reputation building professional URLs, employment and contact information.
6. Opt Out Of People Search And Data Brokerage Services
If you have a highly searchable web history, remove your personal data from the top data aggregators, public record searches and web tracker services. The opting out procedure will vary for each service type. You’ll have to repeat this exercise, since new profiles will be created when there’s new info on you. Some of the top services are 123people.com, Acxiom, EmailFinder.com, InfoSpace and so on.
7. Use Google Privacy Center Tools
Use the tools included in the Google Privacy Center to monitor and manage your online reputation. You can also prevent Google websites from harvesting your personal data.
8. Disable Tracking Cookies
Prevent web trackers from installing tracking cookies on your computer. Use the opt-out form from Network Advertising to discourage web trackers.
9. Limit Your Online Aliases
Don’t create any number of online aliases on IMs, social networking pages and the like. Even long after you’ve stopped using them, they can be traced back to you. When you decide not to use an account anymore, delete it from the service provider’s server.
10. Use SEO
Use your personal blog to post positive articles about your industry or experiences. Make sure that you apply every possible SEO optimization strategy to your blog to ensure these articles come up top on search results.
11. Secure Your Online Accounts
Make sure you regularly change the passwords for your banking accounts, social networking accounts, and IM and email accounts. Also, log in to any service only when you want to use it; disable the ‘stay logged in’ feature. This will ensure that some bonehead won’t be able to access your account and post nasties about you online, or perform illegal transactions with your bank and ruin you.
12. Don’t Reveal Personal Information
Even if you’re using a 100% (supposedly) connection, don’t share your complete personal information online. This means no one communication should contain your full name, address, and phone number, full date of birth, hometown details and information about family and friends. Any half-wit hacker can put this kind of information to any number of negative uses, to your total detriment.
13. Use Google Image Search
Try not to post pictures of yourself on photo-sharing websites unless it’s a secure site. Use Google Image Search to look for pictures of you that might be misused online.
14. Deal With Negative Reputation Immediately
If you find negative mentions of you on other blogs or networking sites, request the owners to remove them. The longer you allow the mentions to remain, the faster they’ll spread. If they don’t comply, you can resort to legal action; however, the first step should be to identify, isolate and address the issue immediately.