Every time I visit a business school campus I come back with new ideas about careers. I met Nisha, a first-year student, who wants to be an entrepreneur. Her big idea is about launching a service that helps individuals and organisations manage their online reputation.
The social media monitoring service Reppler recently surveyed more than 300 hiring professionals to determine when and how job recruiters are screening job candidates on different social networks.
The study found that more than 90% of recruiters and hiring managers have visited a potential candidate's profile on a social network as part of the screening process. And a whopping 69% of recruiters have rejected a candidate based on content found on his or her social networking profiles — an almost equal proportion of recruiters (68%), though, have hired a candidate based on his or her presence on those networks.
Nisha says that the real market for her lies in coaching individuals on building a positive online reputation for themselves and the mistakes to avoid. Nisha has advised her classmates against putting up photos that show them in a less flattering light.
Do not put them up in the first place is her rule number one. Rule number two is about making sure that you know what people are saying about you online. In a digitally connected world, your online reputation spreads faster than you imagine. Rule number three is to make sure you build a positive reputation about your skills. You could do that by sharing links, readings and resources on a subject.
It is like becoming the Wikipedia on at least one subject in the world. So managing your reputation is not just about guarding against negative reputations – it can be actually used positively, says Nisha. We have opinions about people we have not even met.
We have opinions about products and services we have not used or will ever be able to afford. We have opinions about companies based on what their employees are saying. Every employee is a brand ambassador of the organization’s reputation. What the consumer says is always more believable than what the manufacturer says about the product.
Clearly, one's opinion could be another's reputation. Organizations are rarely aware of their reputations being sullied or built by inaccurate information put online by well meaning employees and well wishers. Worse still are pranks that can damage the reputation your organization has built over the years. In 2009 two employees of Domino's Pizza filmed a prank in the restaurant's kitchen and posted it online.
The video went viral with a million disgusted viewers and created a major public relations crisis. How can the firm track this stuff? Have a specialist firm track your online reputation. If your company already has a clearly articulated policy about what employees can talk about or not in the social media then make sure you periodically reinforce it. What is once written on the Net is rarely erased forever.
Wikileaks told the red faced government officials that even diplomatic chatter was not immune to being put into public domain. What if there were to be a Wikileaks version for corporations or for individuals, how would that change our world, I asked Nisha. The social media even in its current avatar has taken on that role is her retort. Your reputation does not belong to you – it is actually owned by others. Think about it.
This article appeared on The Economic Times. Please find the article here
The article is also featured on Abhijit Bhaduri's personal blog. Please find the blog here