Tag Archives: Scrubbing Online Record

Scrubbing your online reputation: Yes, words can hurt

27 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Reputation takes a long time to burnish and nurture. It can be destroyed by a smear or an ill-thought-out act in a nanosecond.

“The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”

“Your reputation is in the hands of others. That’s what the reputation is. You can’t control that. The only thing you can control is your character.”
Wayne W. Dyer

In an attempt to control online reputation, many schools are now helping their students clean their online presentation. Why? Because people like to gossip and most of us have been young and stupid or old and ill-advised.

“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

“Isn’t it kind of silly to think that tearing someone else down builds you up?”
Sean Covey, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens

Carolyn Thompson of AP reports in the article, Colleges help students scrub online footprints:

Samantha Grossman wasn’t always thrilled with the impression that emerged when people Googled her name.

“It wasn’t anything too horrible,” she said. “I just have a common name. There would be pictures, college partying pictures, that weren’t of me, things I wouldn’t want associated with me.”

So before she graduated from Syracuse University last spring, the school provided her with a tool that allowed her to put her best Web foot forward. Now when people Google her, they go straight to a positive image — professional photo, cum laude degree and credentials — that she credits with helping her land a digital advertising job in New York.

“I wanted to make sure people would find the actual me and not these other people,” she said.

Syracuse, Rochester and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore are among the universities that offer such online tools to their students free of charge, realizing ill-considered Web profiles of drunken frat parties, prank videos and worse can doom graduates to a lifetime of unemployment — even if the pages are somebody else’s with the same name.

It’s a growing trend based on studies showing that most employers Google prospective hires and nearly all of them won’t bother to go past the first page of results. The online tools don’t eliminate the embarrassing material; they just put the graduate’s most flattering, professional profile front and center.

“These students have been comfortable with the intimate details of their lives on display since birth,” said Lisa Severy, president-elect of the National Career Development Association and director of career services at the University of Colorado-Boulder, which does not offer the service.

“The first item on our ‘five things to do before you graduate’ list is ‘clean up your online profile,'” she said. “We call it the grandma test — if you don’t want her to see it, you probably don’t want an employer to, either.”

After initially supplying BrandYourself accounts to graduating seniors, Syracuse University this year struck a deal with the company — begun by a trio of alumni — to offer accounts to all of its undergraduate and graduate students and alumni at no additional charge. About 25,000 people have access to it so far.

“It’s becoming more and more important for students to be aware of and able to manage their online presence, to be able to have strong, positive things come up on the Internet when someone seeks them out,” said Mike Cahill, Syracuse’s career services director.

Online reputation repair companies have been around for at least a couple of years, often charging hundreds or thousands of dollars a year to arrange for good results on search engine result pages. BrandYourself, which normally charges $10 a month for an account, launched two years ago as a less expensive, do-it-yourself alternative after co-founder Pete Kistler ran into a problem with his own name.

“He couldn’t get an internship because he was getting mistaken for a drug dealer with the same name,” said co-founder Patrick Ambron. “He couldn’t even get calls back and found out that was the problem…”

BrandYourself works by analyzing search terms in a user’s online profile to determine, for example, that a LinkedIn account might rank 25th on Google searches of the user’s name. The program then suggests ways to boost that ranking. The software also provides alerts when an unidentified result appears on a user’s first page or if any links rise or fall significantly in rank.

Nati Katz, a public relations strategist, views his presence online as a kind of virtual storefront that he began carefully tending while in graduate school at Syracuse…. 184052483.html;_ylc=X3oDMTNzMjR1dWM5BF9TAzc2NjUxNDkEYWN0A21haWxfY2IEY3QDYQRpbnRsA3VzBGxhbmcDZW4tVVMEcGtnA2I2MDMzYTdkLWJiMDAtMzI5Mi1hNDc0LTNlYTA1ZDhmNzdkNwRzZWMDbWl0X3NoYXJlBHNsawNtYWlsBHRlc3QDTjRVX2NvcmU-;_ylv=3

Back in the day, folks had to worry about their reputation in their local community. With the advent of social media, the community is now global and folks have to worry about their global reputation.

Because a person’s reputation is key to future opportunities of all types, a new business of helping people rid themselves of unwanted online information is developing. Lini S. Kadaba of the Philadelphia Inquirer in the article, Online Reputation Can Make or Break Opportunities which was reprinted in the Seattle Times writes:

For 20 years, the Philadelphia psychotherapist had treated his clients’ anxiety, fear, and depression, and built a healthy practice along the way.

Then in late 2006 he noticed a precipitous drop in new patients. At a suggestion, he Googled himself and made a devastating discovery: The top search hits questioned his credentials because he had earned a distance-learning doctorate from an institution that was later shuttered. Essentially, a popular consumer health blogger had deemed him a quack.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” said the licensed therapist, who is 71 now. “I just felt powerless. I didn’t know what to do.”

Enter Reputation Defender. For a few hundred dollars, the California-based company scrubbed clean the therapist’s badly smudged Internet profile. And within weeks, a search of his name delivered hits — bios and even a blog entry — that characterized him as a respected mental-health professional. (It worked so well, he did not want his name used in this article. To do so would revive the negative information that once threatened his livelihood.)

In an age of tell-all status updates, real-time video feeds, and Everyman bloggers with caustic opinions, the cyber-reputations of individuals and businesses — really the only image that counts these days — are constantly in danger of attack, according to Internet profile experts. As a result, in the last three years, the business of online reputation management has flourished. Even parents of college applicants are eager to dispose of those Facebook pictures before admissions officers discover them.

“It’s like anti-virus protection for your life,” said Michael Fertik, who was at the leading edge of the fledgling industry when he launched Reputation Defender in October 2006. Companies such as Reputation Defender and Reputation Hawk promote themselves as the superheroes of the Internet, often with names to match….

In a Microsoft-commissioned survey titled “Online Reputation in a Connected World” and released this year, 70 percent of the 275 U.S. recruiters and human resources professionals surveyed said they had rejected candidates based on information found online. Most went well beyond Google, searching social networks (63 percent), photo and video sharing sites (59 percent), and Twitter and other news-sharing sites (41 percent).

Given that reality and an especially tight job market, some individuals are taking a super-proactive approach — hiring rep managers to scan the Web for information to see what’s out there and, as an insurance policy, add positive content. This year, Syracuse University offered its graduating seniors a six-month membership to Brand-Yourself.com, an Internet reputation-management company focused on social media promotion and started by Syracuse students in 2009.

To quote Clint Eastwood in “Heartbreak Ridge,” “Shut your face, hippy.”

“How would your life be different if…You walked away from gossip and verbal defamation? Let today be the day…You speak only the good you know of other people and encourage others to do the same.”
Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

“Gossip is just a tool to distract people who have nothing better to do from feeling jealous of those few of us still remaining with noble hearts.”
Anna Godbersen, Splendor

“Rumor travels faster, but it don’t stay put as long as truth. ”
Will Rogers

“Allow enemies their space to hate; they will destroy themselves in the process.”
Lisa Du

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