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Does Your Online Reputation Need a Cleanup?

Only seven percent of Americans believe their online reputation will affect their job search, according to a study by Microsoft and Cross-Tab Market Research. However, 70 percent of US recruiters have rejected candidates based on their online reputation.

Do you know what information about YOU is online? What is online DOES matter. Don't let all your hard job search work get sabotaged by having an employer find negative information about you on the Internet.

These days, years of building a good reputation can be lost in minutes by information, true or false, spread on the Internet. Some less-than-ethical companies have found that enraged customers are spewing venom on web sites. Some of these companies have been driven out of business by such negative publicity. You can be ruined just as easily as some companies have.

Chances are you're not worried about anyone finding pictures of you naked and/or drunk, as has happened to many recent college grads. Still, you owe it to yourself to do a search pronto to see what background checkers will learn about you.The Internet provides an easy forum for anyone to falsely claim you've done awful things—or to report bad things you may have actually done.

Search and Find Out:  How bad is it?
Find out what bad information there is about you online.  Do searches with Google, Yahoo, and other search engine to see if anything damaging comes up in the first five pages or so.  To hurt you, it need only raise a doubt.  If you do find anything problematic, here's what you can do.

Request Removal
you've been trashed in a blog of a disgruntled employee or by the person you dated twice. You might call and request that it be removed. Of course, this may or may not work, depending on why this person is upset and how sane he/she is.

If there are people you've wronged, be in touch and see if you can make it up to them.  Don't be combative. Instead be reasonable, and explain why you want the material removed. Perhaps the poster will listen, especially if the information is inaccurate and/or libelous.

Contacting the search engines is a waste of your time; Don't bother asking them for help.

Distract the Search Engines
Whether the bad information is true or not, bury it!  Create new information for the search engines to find about you. This can include creating a blog, a web site, press releases, publishing your writing at respected sources like industry publications, giving presentations at locations that will list you on their web sites, your LinkedIn profile, as well as posts you write in LinkedIn groups and at sites like's book reviews.  This won't make the bad material disappear; it will make it harder to find.  Don't create junk, however.  Make sure that the material you create enhances your reputation. Do not post laudatory information about yourself while pretending to be someone else.  If you're found out, it could be excruciatingly embarrassing.

Monitor the web
Sign up for Google Alerts to receive an email when information about you or your company is created or changed.  Of course, if your name happens to be Smith or Jones or you happen to share a name with someone famous, this option may generate too many emails to be useful. 

Hire help
There are a number of companies that will help you in this area, but there's no magic wand.The only way to remove something from the web is to get the cooperation of the website where it appears. Plus, search engines can even allow people to view content after it's been removed.

Another option is to hire help.  A few of the companies that help in this area are ReputationDefender, RemoveYourName, and Integrity Defenders. They may also be able to have certain items removed.

Don't wait until the last minute.  Find out what's out there, and take action NOW so that you're not rejected from that great job because of negative online information.



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