Your online reputation is based on everything people can find out by searching online for you.
This includes information on websites as well as your social media accounts and things you post on forums. It also includes photos you’re tagged in, and comments that you write.
Managing your online reputation is important. It can play a part in what people think about you.
A potential employer could decide not to hire you if they don’t like something they see about you online. Other people, like caseworkers or real estate agents, might make up their minds about you based on your online image. They might decide not to help you because of what they see, even if what they see isn't what you're really like.
There are two kinds of information you need to manage if you want to be in control of your online reputation:
- information you post online about yourself
- information other people post online about you.
The first kind of information is easy to manage. The second kind is harder to manage, but not impossible.
Managing information you post about yourself
Here are four things you can do to manage your own posts online.
1. Keep your social media accounts private
The internet has a long memory. Set all of your social media accounts to private. Make sure any posts you make public are things you’d be happy for your boss, co-workers or potential employers to see.
2. Be positive and friendly when you're online
It's important to be positive and friendly online. Don’t gossip or badmouth people (especially your boss or co-workers). There's always a chance it could get back to them somehow.
Even if you’ve set your accounts to private, remember that someone you're friends with could still copy or forward your posts to people you aren’t connected to.
3. Delete old posts and old accounts
If there are photos and posts online that you don’t think represent the person you are now, consider deleting them.
You could also delete old social media accounts you aren’t using anymore. Visit each site’s help page to find out how to delete your account. If you can't delete the account, you might consider deleting all of your posts on that account instead.
4. Build a better online reputation
One way to improve your online image and impress potential employers is to create accounts or websites that show your work and study interests.
For example, you could use professional networking sites to post about your work, study or community interests. Our find a job by networking page has further information.
You could also create separate social media accounts that you only use to post things about your work or study, then set those accounts to public.
You might even consider claiming your own domain name (for example, janesmith.com.au) and building your own website.
Building your own website can help you stay in control of the search results for your name. It’s cheaper and easier than you think. Do an online search for "register a domain name" and shop around.
Managing information other people post about you
It's harder to manage information about you that other people put online, but it's not impossible. Here are some steps you can take.
1. Do a regular search for yourself
Search online regularly for your name in and see what comes up. You can also search for your name on social media sites. You’ll be surprised how much someone can find out about you this way.
2. Untag yourself or contact the people posting about you
Many social media sites let you untag yourself from photos, videos and posts. On other sites you may need to contact the poster to ask them to remove tags or delete posts.
3. Contact the site owners
If the person responsible for the post or tag won't help you out, or if you can't get in touch with them, try contacting the site owners to ask for the posts to be removed.
Most websites and social media platforms list ways to make a complaint or ask for posts to be removed. Look for a link called something like ‘Help’, ‘Support’ or ‘Contact us’.
More advice about your online reputation
Learn more about creating a responsible and professional online image, including advice on how to behave online and use social media safely, on our web safety page.