Protecting your personal brand

Around 77 per cent of recruiters use search engines to find background data on candidates (according to one survey).  Of those, 35 per cent have eliminated a candidate because of what they found online.

So how do you protect your personal brand?

Web strategist Jeremiah Owyang recently examined an online dispute between a photographer and an employee at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art recently.  While I won’t go into the details of the dispute, the upshot is that the photographer blogged about the incident, called the SF MOMA employee (Simon) an ‘a-hole’ and the story was soon circulating through cyberspace.  It became the number one story on Digg, and spread to Flickr, Zoomr, Friendfeed and Twitter.

A simple Google search will now uncover hundreds of results tied to Simon being an ‘a-hole’.  As Jeremiah Owyang says, Simon had very little online footprint to start with, and “now it will be dominated online by all of these social media elements” and his reputation will be forever linked to this incident.

… we know that many recruiters use the web to find candidates, and seeing several results like this could result in a recruiter passing up a candidate. If a recruiter doesn’t care, or doesn’t see this, hiring managers are likely to do Google searches on the individual finding this.

So, the key takeaways (courtesy of Jeremiah):

  • For those that don’t already participate online, and have a small digital footprint, they don’t have a strong platform to stand from. 
  • Anyone is susceptible to brand damage, even if you’re not in this space (and even emails can do damage – see the Dianna Abala saga and marvel!).
  • Bloggers with large social media platforms are incredibly powerful, and must recognize the long-term impacts of their actions. 
  • Businesses should assume every customer (and employee) is capable of impacting an individual or company’s online reputation.
  • Simon may have to buy search ads to get his printed resume or story correctly positioned.

So, go Google yourself.  It’s not so much ego surfing as research!


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