Managing Your Reputation

Those unflattering middle school pictures on Facebook, teen shaming ecards and college Instagram party pics aren’t just ruining your potential romantic relationships, they’re harming your ability to get a job, even a part-time one.

Once upon a time (think 1990’s and early 2000’s) restauranteurs and the Limited didn’t care if you were a weekend partier or took awful photos, now they not only care, but you’ll get screened out before human eyes ever see your resume. The liability is too big. If you’re willing to live your life online, what’s to stop you from making a video like this Domino’s one, or exposing what really happens behind Target’s closed doors?

As this article and infographic from Undercover Recruiter points out, “You don’t have to be squeaky clean – it’s as important to be interesting and relevant – but an awful lot of damage can be done in a very brief period of time by behaving in an inappropriate manner. Before you know what’s happened, your reputation is in tatters and the fallout is irrecoverable.”

This infographic from KBSD, posted on Undercover Recruiter  has good suggestions for managing your online reputation.

how you can manage your online reputationImage from: theundercoverrecruiter.com

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It’s ok to be quiet in a tragedy

I’d like to clarify in more than 140 characters a Tweet I sent earlier today. The Tweet was: “Every business social account does not need to share “thoughts and prayers are with #Newtown.” If you can’t add to the conversation, don’t.”

The context came from both my Facebook newsfeed and my Twitter feed. In both, businesses and organizations were simply posting some variation of: “We’re deeply saddened by the news of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. We send our thoughts and prayers to all affected.”

It was overwhelming and distracting. Those kinds of statements don’t add to the conversation. Coffee places, non-profits, businesses and the like, didn’t need to say anything. At best it comes across as trite, at worst, like this Tweet from KMart, which Matt LaCasse posted to Facebook after seeing it elsewhere, comes across as very insensitive.

KMart tragedy Tweet

In a 24/7 news world, it is crucial for brands and business to follow news and revamp on the fly.

As digital marketer, Lauren Fernandez, (cubanalaf) points out, there are times when it is appropriate to say something. She replied to my tweet with, “We did so when canceling our contest today, and felt it was appropriate. I still do.”

Fernandez also adds, “It’s appropriate for brands to do so if product, company values or brand location ties into it.”

I agree with her on both points. Her first comment is the right way to acknowledge that plans changed and events and people take prescience over promotion.

Do you manage a social account for a brand or business and agree or disagree?

Content: Value and Information

Content is King

The opening session keynote speaker at the HUG Super Forum (I’m attending for work) made some really great points about making content work for you to gain clients or customers.

AK Stout, the owner at Saying it Social, emphasized that creating fresh, new content, not only helps your SEO, but also adds value to you or your organization.

She said, people aren’t using search engines to find a “plumber” like they would use the yellow pages, instead they are searching for, “how to fix a leaky faucet.” If your plumbing business can be on the first page of results for how to fix a leaky faucet, you’re more likely to gain that person as a customer when they can’t fix the leaky faucet themselves, or when they fix it using your information and another big plumbing issue comes up later.

The same is true for you. If you can be on the first page of results for whatever your niche or your company’s niche is, the more likely you are to gain that the person searching for that information for the project or in the future. You’ve provided valuable information without trying to overtly sell something.

Which was Stout’s second point, overtly selling turns people off. If instead you can provide value or desired information before pushing yourself or company, then you’ve gained their trust and you’re more like to gain a sale in the future. It’s a different mentality than in the past.

Think of that when you’re interviewing for a position. Instead of selling yourself, prove you can provide the value and have the necessary qualities for the position.

How do you provide valuable content and gain trust?

The current job market

Two recent Harvard Business Review posts cited some interesting statistics from the September U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

“As of January 2012, the median time that wage and salary workers in the U.S. had been with their current employers was just 4.6 years,” according to the first HBR post by David K. Williams and Mary Michelle Scott. “Other recent data points are equally disturbing: The staffing company Randstad says that 40% of employees are planning to look for a new job within the next six months. Another survey notes that 69% of employees are already at least passively shopping for new job opportunities via social media today.”

Further, most of those looking fall into entry-level positions. The old saying, people accept a position for the company and leave because of management may ring true. However, the perspective of this follow up HBR post also by David K. Williams and Mary Michelle Scott focused on how those managers can work to retain employees and convince them to stick with a company or organization for the long-term.

The authors suggest managers can retain employees by following the Five Rs of employee relationships, which is also a good list for a perspective employee to use to judge a perspective company.

Responsibility: How much responsibility will you have? Are you trusted to do your job? Are there ways for you to grow in the position or gain new skills?

Respect and Reward (these go together): How do supervisors in the company show they respect their employees? How are employees recognized or rewarded? How will I know you’re committed to me as an employee?

Revenue-sharing: What’s in it for me if the company does well this year? (Fair warning: it probably isn’t a good idea to ask the question exactly that way in an interview setting.)

Relaxation time: How is time off handled? Is it by department? What about sick time? In all businesses, there are busy times, what if you need time off then?

What else can you use to judge a potential employer?

Comparing Job Offers

With salaries squeezed, more and more companies are offering benefits such as unlimited vacation, 401K matching and fully paid medical and dental. As this recent Mashable.com article points out, the non-monetary benefits can make up for a less than stellar salary. Some employers let employees bank vacation time and pay out for unused days at the end of the year.

“A recent study conducted by Harris Interactive for Ask.com shows just how important abundant vacation time is to workers, even if they’re not using it: More than a third of people surveyed said unlimited paid time off would encourage them to take or keep a job (34%),” according to this recent Mashable.com article.  “Although only 38% of workers surveyed actually take all their paid time off (PTO) days.”

If you’re lucky enough to get two offers or are weighing whether or not you should leave your current position for another job, ask yourself the following:

  • What does the whole fiscal package looks like when comparing job offers. Put a dollar value on days off (divide the salary by 52 weeks and again by 40 to get your rough, pre-tax hourly rate. Then times that number by 8 (hours) to get your rough, pre-tax daily rate)
  • What is the company offering for medical, dental and vision?
  • Are there other perks (cell phone, mileage, etc.)?

This information will let you better compare apples to apples. However, just because one offer is fiscally better, is the environment better? What about the actual job duties? Your co-workers? Potential boss?

Even if the perks are great, will you actually be able to take those unlimited days? As mentioned above, not all employees can use the great vacation benefits.

It’s a gamble either way, but with as much information as you can get, you should feel comfortable with your choice.

More: read why you should use your vacation time.