/PRNewswire/ -- In a competitive job market, a polished professional reputation can make or break someone's chances of landing a coveted position. And since the word google became a verb, that reputation includes information that can be found online. This is particularly true for IT professionals who are evaluated on their technical savvy, noted Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology.
"As a growing number of employers search the Internet for information about job seekers, it's become more important for applicants to actively monitor and maintain their professional reputations online," said Willmer. "The current economic environment has made hiring managers increasingly cautious, and any information that raises a red flag can quickly take candidates out of consideration for a job."
Willmer offers the following seven tips for managing your digital imprint:
1. Take stock. Discover what information about you -- if any -- already is online by performing a search using popular search engines. If you discover an item that you wouldn't want hiring managers to see, ask the person who posted the information or website administrator to remove it. Similarly, untag any inappropriate photos of yourself.
2. Activate privacy settings. If you belong to social networking sites or have a personal blog, adjust your privacy settings so you control who has access.
3. Exercise discretion. When interacting online, be selective about which venues you participate in and who you allow into your personal and professional networks. If you regularly contribute to blogs or forums, give thought as to how your statements may be interpreted by those outside your community. Consider using a pseudonym if you wouldn't want a potential employer to see your posts. You can use BlogPulse or Technorati to track online conversations about you or your sites.
4. Network wisely. When using professional networking sites such as LinkedIn to look for job opportunities, behave graciously with everyone you encounter and follow posted protocols. Thank anyone who assists you, and be sure to return the favor when possible.
5. Stack the deck. Business information websites such as ZoomInfo allow users to post information about themselves, so consider including details about your professional involvement and qualifications on these types of forums.
6. Share your insights. Posting useful advice and commentary on industry forums and authoring online articles in your area of expertise can add to your credibility.
7. Monitor the conversation. Set alerts using Google or other tracking services under your name so you receive an e-mail notification every time something new is said about you online.
"Professionals should always post prudently -- not just when they're looking for work," said Willmer. "The business world is more transparent than ever, which means people need to be aware that what they say and do online can have both positive and negative consequences."
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