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Seb Anthony

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Your reputation precedes you – or does it?


Andy Warhol reputedly said that, one day, everyone would have 15 minutes of fame.  If fame is a measure of how much is known about you by people you have never met, then everyone can be famous now. In fact, we can all be famous, or infamous, for a lot longer than 15 minutes. In the internet age your reputation really does precede you;

  • over 80% of prospective employers now actively research job applicants online (ie they look up people who have already sent in applications)
  • many career advisors and recruitment consultants advise interviewees to look up their interviewer online as part of their preparation
  • most managers seeking a supplier will check out the (prospective) bidders’ online reputation (individually and personally).

A study in 2013 reported that 1 in 10 people between 16 and 34 had been turned down for a job due to their online reputation on social networking sites.  Clearly what appears connected your name on these sites counts with regard to creating infamy, but it is the more ‘serious’ online places where professionals can generate positive ‘fame’ with regard to their reputation.
“Having a positive online reputation is a huge asset when seeking employment or promotion because it reassures the interviewer and invites them to want to find out more about you. Having a negative online reputation is a liability, seriously undermining your capacity to create a positive first impression and be taken seriously.” says Lucinda Slater image consultant at Communicating Your Brilliance.

Forum type websites, such as this one, allow users to create a positive online presence. These sites, though more industry focussed than LinkedIn, don’t force members to be open about their identity.  Consequently some members of these sites choose to remain anonymous.  One wonders why?  This anonymity is not just in their “profile” page but also in any forum activity they engage in; they both seek and offer advice behind a username and either a non personal avatar or the site’s default image.

Business networking sites such as LinkedIn require their members to create a public profile.  Once you are a member of such a site you can provide regular updates of what you are doing (and who you are doing it for) that will enhance your online reputation.  Not only will your contacts be consistently reminded of your existence but also of your new activity or repeat success.
Comparison and business building sites, such as Rated People and TrainNation, not only require members to have a public profile but actively encourage their customers to rate them; this means that the persona is not just self-image but real reputation.

Here are a couple of top tips from the image professionals for creating a profile that will work for you:

  • Use your own real name rather than a pseudonym or username. This shows a degree of transparency and self confidence that correspondingly gives credibility to you, your profile and any comments you make online. “I've received several invitations to connect in the last week from people who didn't identify themselves. Setting up a profile with "Private Profile" or "Human Resources Manager" instead of your name and asking me to connect with you isn't going to work.” says Alison Doyle, author of “Internet Your Way to a New Job: How to Really Find a Job Online” If at all possible avoid being “janedoe88”; you are trying to stand out, not appear as just another Jane Doe.   Another reason to use your own real name is for the purposes of references; if a prospective client or employer wants to check you out they feel silly asking a third party if ‘gamingqueen’ is one of their regular trainers!
  • Display a good, recent head and shoulders photo (not a computer generated, or even hand, drawn cartoon). This doesn’t need to be an expensive, professional portrait, but a picture that is a true recent likeness.  Avoid an obvious “selfy”, a picture taken with an unusual or non-work related background, or a group picture where it is not obvious which person is you. “Did you know that LinkedIn profiles with photos receive 50-70% more inquires than profiles without?” says Norine Dagliano of
  • Build on your profile over time with blogs, forum entries and relevant activity updates.  This will further an active and positive image.

So don’t hide your light under a bushel; get a decent profile on sites such as TrainingZone, TrainNation and LinkedIn and start enjoying your fifteen minutes of fame today!


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