Assessing Your Online Reputation

Assessing Your Online Reputation

to save your progress


  1. Learners will be able to evaluate their online image.
  2. Learners will be able to explain the importance of managing their online brand.

It's generally a good policy to keep our personal lives separate from our work lives, but with the popularity of social media, sometimes that can be hard. While we have the freedom to make our own choices off-the-clock, when those choices are documented publically on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok, they can cause problems for us in the workplace. This lesson will talk about how our online reputation can help or hurt us as we seek to grow in our careers.

Watch the video below. Then, answer the question that follows.
Do you think the airport workers deserved to be fired for making the video? Why or why not?

Who are you online?

Have you ever Googled your name? It might sound invasive, but other people have probably searched for your name too. Surveys have reported that while only 11% of employers used social media to screen candidates in 2006, the number has shot up to over 70% in recent years. Social media screening is now a significant part of the job application process, and you must be proactive about your online presence. But it isn't just employers looking for job applicants online; college admissions committees have also adopted the strategy.

Your online identity is often the first impression new people get of you. To leverage that in our favor, we must be conscious of what they see.

Go to your favorite search engine and type in your name. If you have a fairly popular name, it might help to put it in quotation marks and add your state (for example, you might search for "John Smith" NC). Then, answer the following questions.
  • What are a few positive things you found about yourself when you searched for your name?
  • Was there anything you found that you might not want to use as a first impression?

We can't always control the information that makes it to the internet. When you searched yourself, you may have found sites run by government agencies, former employers, schools and universities, media outlets, and more. While you might not be able to keep potential employers from finding everything online, you should be aware of what's searchable so you can address it in an interview, if necessary.

But in addition to what other people publish about you online, you should also take time to examine what you are sharing about yourself.

Pull up any social media profiles you have. Be sure to consider all sites, including Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and more. Then, answer the following questions.
  • Did you find anything on your social media profiles that you would not want an employer to see?
  • Do you think it's possible that an employer could find something on one of your pages that might keep you from getting or keeping a job?

Building Your Brand

Knowing that employers might look at your social media profiles when you apply for a job, it can be tempting to delete everything. But deleting everything actually puts you at a disadvantage; when you remove your own voice from the equation, all that's left is what others have shared.

It might seem counterintuitive, but it's often a better idea to build up a brand that represents you as you want to be seen by others. By sharing a cohesive message on multiple platforms, you have the chance to set the first impression you want, regardless of who is looking. The steps below will help you rebrand your online identity.

1. Decide who you want to be

Part of establishing your online identity is deciding how exactly you want people to see you. Once you definitively choose what persona you want to portray, you can align your profiles to represent it.

Complete the activity below to explore how others might interpret your online persona.
Think about all of the content you personally have put online. This might be something on a Facebook or Instagram page, or something as simple as an email address you give potential employers to contact you. It might help to pull up your pages as you answer the questions below.
  • Looking at your current online presence, what are five words you'd use to describe how employers might see you?
  • What are five words you would want employers to use to describe you after looking at your online profiles?
  • Do your lists of words match? Why or why not?

Now that you have a list of five words that describe how you want employers to see you, you can build up your online brand to make it match. While we tend to focus primarily on our professional profiles, like LinkedIn or other business profiles or sites, aligning professional and personal profiles will make your message stronger.


With professional sites, it's important to portray yourself in the role you want, not necessarily the role you have. Be careful! This doesn't mean you should portray yourself as the CEO of a company where you've worked as a technician, but you should think about prioritizing your relevant experience.

You should also consider building your network around others in the field you want to be in. Connect with people who work in similar roles and fields to the one you want to find your way into. Look particularly for people who represent the five words you want to be seen as from the last activity. By interacting with them, you'll learn about your intended career and you'll also show prospective employers that you're already a part of the professional community.


For your personal profiles, you don't necessarily need to share a whole bunch of professional content on the page where your aunts and uncles usually come to see pictures of your dog. Your personal profiles can still represent your personal life. That being said, prospective employers might still come across your personal profiles if they search for you. Make sure that nothing on your personal profiles contradicts the image that you are trying to portray professionally.

2. Remove old content

Once you've decided on your brand, you should delete any old content that doesn't align. Watch the video below to learn about a few places old content can lurk.

3. Document

Once you've deleted everything from your profile that doesn't match up with your new brand, it's likely that your profiles might be looking a little sparse. Manufacturing new content to fill the gaps can be incredibly time consuming, and often comes off forced. Instead, consider documenting aspects of your life that fit the new brand. Here are a few quick ways you can document your skills.

  • Add skills to professional profiles: Professional social networks like LinkedIn allow you to add up to 50 skills to your profile. By adding skills, people you know can endorse you, helping you build credibility. You can also take skills assessments on the site to document your expertise with certain technologies and competencies.
  • Join professional networks: Professional networks on social media sites are a great way to show you're part of a community. If an employer happens to look at your profile and sees you're in a group they're a part of, they'll be more likely to see you as a peer.
  • Attend an online workshop: By responding to events on social media sites, you'll create a documented trail of professional development. Plus, you might learn something interesting, too!
to save your progress