How Millennials Manage Their Online Reputation to Attract Employers

August 15, 2017

2:30 pm

If you are a GenXer, you’re probably thrilled that the knucklehead stuff you did as a younger person couldn’t instantly be turned into a video, Snap or Tweet. However, millennials’ lives can be put online by anyone with a smartphone at any moment.

In a recent Domain.Me study by Wakefield Research, 76 percent of millennials are concerned that the information about them online may negatively affect their reputation.

In that same survey, 59 percent of millennials admit that they in fact have been affected by information that appeared online. As this generation emerges onto the workforce in masses, recruiters, employers and founders will be crawling the web and social media feeds to gather a snapshot of each candidate.

We asked millennials in the public relations industry what they do to manage their reputation to attract clients and job opportunities.

Lower the TMI

While putting everything from your morning bagel to party drinks with friends on social media is the norm for this generation, too much information opens the doors to shape the wrong impression for potential employers and clients.

Konnor Buscho, social media coordinator at DigitalWire360, said, “Social media is meant for fun, entertainment, jokes and news. If you start airing out your dirty laundry, not only will strangers/employers judge you, so will your following.”

Stop With the Online Rants

In today’s political arena, online rants, calling people out and brand bashing are showing up more frequently in social feeds. The problem? An online rant can be hyper-damaging to one’s reputation and career path.

In the Wakefield study, 84 percent of millennials said they put something online they regret. Truth be told that deleting a post, tweet or snap doesn’t mean it’s gone forever, and it’s completely possible for someone to capture the content and use it later online.

Stephanie Lough, public relations account executive at DigitalWire360 said, “Lose the ‘It’s my social media feed so I can do/say what I want” mentality. That attitude simply doesn’t translate to the real world. Actions have consequences, so be prepared to take responsibility if your digital actions cause real life problems.”

Experts recommend pausing before you put something out online, especially if you feel your blood boiling, so that you don’t regret the decision later.

The First Impression

The old saying of “you only have one chance to make a first impression” still holds true online. The first thing an employer, recruiter or customers will do is run a Google search and dig in. Whatever they find online gives them the first impression of you.

Lindsey Dempsey, founder of Elite Marketing Savvy, said, “In this day and age, your online reputation is your first impression and possibly your only impression. The employer will Google you before they do anything else and [read] everything that appears under your name. It’s a direct roadmap to see the ‘real you.’ Make sure you like what the Internet defines as ‘the real you.’”

Our experts recommend to begin shaping your social media feed that tells a narrative you want everyone to see.

Consequences of Not Managing Your Rep

By ignoring your online reputation, you are essentially allowing everyone else to write the biography of you.

“Would you let a complete stranger write your professional bio and send it to your boss without reviewing it? [No.]” Lindsey said. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, not managing your online reputation can easily cost you the job, boyfriend, friend, and who knows in the future!”

In addition, whatever you haven’t cleaned up in your feeds, posts could return at the most inopportune moments.

Stephanie Riel, a public relations digital strategist, said, “All of your online actions shape your reputation and can resurface at any point in the future. It’s common to hear about people losing their job or clients over past or current posts. That’s even more of a concern for millennials because so much more of our lives have been shared online in the last 10 years.”

It Has to Pass the Mom Test

Before you go ahead and post that selfie holding your 3rd or 4th drink or pop off to a stranger in Facebook, think of mom, would you want her to see that or no?

“Everything you post should pass the boss/mom test. What do I mean by that? You should only post things that you would be ok with your boss and mom seeing. Keep in mind that once you post something on the Internet, it lives forever.” Lindsey said.

Parting Thoughts

We asked our experts to share some quick words of wisdom for millennials on what they do to manage their online reputation.

Stephanie Riel:

  • Build your brand first – the sooner the better. It’s a way to control your narrative.
  • Be proactive and Google yourself frequently.
  • Be strategic. Do so in the content you share from your personal social channels, or in other online venues.

Konnor Buscho:

  • If you use social media genuinely, it can help you work with people/clients/companies you actually want to work with, and help you avoid bad partnerships.

Stephanie Lough:

  • If you regret something you post, don’t pretend like it never happened because the Internet never forgets. Address your mistake when necessary and be sincere.
  • View your profile through the lens of a stranger, a friend, an employer. Value the quality of your posts over quantity.

Lindsey Dempsey:

  • Think twice before you chose a username. Make your username professional from the start so you don’t have to worry about it in the future.
  • Be mindful of what your parents and friends are posting about you. Today, people’s lives are open books and it’s up to you on how you want your narrative to be read.

Read more advice on managing your online reputation at TechCo

This article was brought to you in partnership with .ME, the premium top-level domain for professionals focused on building their online reputation. Learn more at www.domain.me.

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Tishin is a technology journalist and correspondent. She has written for TechCrunch, Demand Studios and Fitness, and has regular network segments on local Phoenix affiliate stations. She holds a Master’s degree in Clinical and Sport psychology, and has covered many areas of technology ranging from 3D printing and game development to neurotech and funding for over 15 years.

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