In recent years, Social Networks have become integral part of our everyday communication. They play a key role not only in our personal, but also in our professional and business relations.
According to a recent survey conducted by Kaplan Test Prep, 27% of business school admissions officers admit that they have Googled applicants to learn more about them and 22% have visited their Facebook or LinkedIn pages. “But these kinds of checks are not something completely new. Employers have been checking the online reputations of potential hires for years, and because admissions committees are interested in the employability of the applicants they accept, it is only natural they are following suit”, says Linda Abraham, president of the admissions consultancy Accepted.com.
Therefore, every MBA applicant has to realize, that his online reputation matters and could affect his career path. “Some universities still don’t have an official policy on tracking a prospective student’s online reputation. Still, if an issue arises that prompts admissions committee members to conduct a Google search or something similar of a prospective student, they will do it”, says a university representative in a Bloomberg Business Week interview.
However, not everything is as easy as it seems. Most of us today have had some sort of online presence, probably dating back to long before they decided to apply to business school or even graduate college. And it’s a real challenge, sometimes impossible, to keep everything about you on the Internet positive.
Repair your online reputation
Todd William, founder and chief executive officer of Reputation Rhino, an online reputation management company, thinks however, that "an online reputation can be repaired". This means getting negative content for someone on the Internet removed whenever possible or highlighting positive content, so it moves the negative onto the second or third page of search results.
But if you don't want to use an agency, here are some useful tricks experts recommend:
First search your name and any nicknames you use on Google. If you find some inappropriate content related to you, remove it whenever possible or contact those who can – webmasters, site administrators or bloggers.
You should get to know all the privacy settings networks like Facebook and Google + offer very well. Then you will have full control of the visibility of your profile. For example, you are able to hide your Wall, pictures and comments from certain group of people or make it visible only to you closest friends. You can also have control to the pictures uploaded by others in which you are tagged. You can either remove the tags or make the pictures visible only to yourself. The only rule here is to regularly check the privacy settings, because sometimes when the networks make major changes (usually every three to six months), your settings are automatically set to Default. Of course, we do not advise you to hide all your pictures online. Admission directors know that everyone has a life, friends and most people enjoy parties. Don't make your profile too clean and sterile and don't leave only one profile photo. Upload pictures from birthdays, vacations and parties, comment and share, just be careful and always follow William's advice - "Make sure your online social media presence is an accurate reflection of who you're presenting yourself to be.
And last, but not least, create a positive content. Fill your Social Network profiles with all your qualifications, skills, accomplishments and awards. You can also ask other people to create positive content about you. For example, you can ask your colleagues and employers for recommendations in LinkedIn, or endorsements like an expert in A Small World. In Google + you can add things you're proud you've done. You can also register in different career and talent search networks that are popular in your country. With that, you will show the admission directors that you are interested in career and personal development.