Interview with an Expert

Mindy Stern

Mindy F. Stern, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, ACC is the founder and President of AIM Resource Group Inc. She is a professional leadership and career coach, author, columnist, speaker and human resource consultant. We asked her the most common questions employers and job seekers ask regarding reputation management…and what they should be asking.

Employee workplace-review sites are causing many employers concern…especially because like all reviews, they are subjective. What advice do you give corporate clients who have a large number of negative employee reviews?

Savvy organizations focus on building their brand image. That is important not only to build brand loyalty from customers but also to encourage future employees to join their organizations. When there are negative reviews about a company it is important to counter the negative reviews with content that has a positive impact. Articles about socially responsible company initiatives, community outreach and posts that educate or enlighten readers about the company mission serve to counter negativity.

Are there other best practices that you see many employers not doing but should?

Many employers struggle to attract and retain the best employees. In order to do that effectively, employers need to demonstrate that they have an employee-friendly workplace. That includes paying appropriate wages; providing excellent benefits; creating internal support networks; establishing a culture that values learning, development and growth; encouraging ongoing feedback and being responsive to employee concerns.

What mistakes, if any, do you see the job seekers you coach making in regard to their online profiles? Do they differ depending on their age range?

Many job seekers, regardless of age, still do not see the value of posting their picture on their online profiles. LinkedIn estimates that a profile picture increases your LinkedIn views by over 11 times. In addition, many job seekers do not leverage their online profile by posting relevant content on a consistent basis or by joining groups that could help to build their credibility and connections.

What common misconceptions do you hear from job seekers about using the Internet to present their best professional skills?

Since I provide outplacement and career coaching services I speak to lots of people who have recently been laid off. I am always surprised at the amount of pushback I get when I tell them they need to have a social media presence. Here are a few of the myths I hear and the reality that I will share with you:

  • I don’t have enough time – The truth is that if you just spend 10 minutes a day, you can make a big impact on your personal brand. Spend some time reaching out to people you would like to connect with or research companies you would like to target in your job search. It is easy to make an impact by simply starting a blog, joining a group or sharing important information with your connections.
  • I can’t compete with the younger generation – I often hear this from Baby Boomers who believe anyone in a younger generation is more adept at using social media. The reality is that the opposite often proves true. Careless posts and compromising pictures often mar the efforts of positive marketing. Using social media with a conscious, consistent and cautious approach can improve anyone’s personal brand.
  • Social media is not right for my industry – The truth is that most people are on some form of social media today. Even if the industry you are aligned with does not actively promote their social media presence, their employees are certainly using it to some degree.
  • I like my privacy – The most commonly held myth is that you can maintain your privacy if you don’t join any social media sites. The truth is that no matter how much you guard your privacy, there is content on the internet about you. The fact is that anyone can say anything about you on the internet and it is nearly impossible to take it down once it is posted. You cannot control that. However, you can control the content you put out there about yourself, which should help to counter any negative items.

Last month a young man called me to inquire about career coaching services. He had been looking for a job for quite a while and could not understand why he was not being successful. When I asked him about his social media presence, he told me that he stayed away from that sort of thing and didn’t even have a Facebook page.

While we were on the phone, I did a quick Google search and the first thing that came up was an assault charge from 10 years ago. He was shocked and upset when he told me that those charges had been dismissed years ago and he had no idea anyone would be aware of them.So I encourage all my clients to Google themselves to see what comes up. You can be sure your future employers will do it.

 Mindy Stern, SPHR,SHRM-SCP, ACC  is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), SHRM-SCP, Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coach Federation, Certified Staffing Professional (ASA), and Certified DISC Facilitator. She is a frequent featured speaker at leadership conferences and writes a monthly column titled “Employment Matters” to educate the public about workplace issues. Her mission is to provide resources, tools and guidance for individuals and organizations. 

This is the eighth in a series of interviews with experts whose work relates to online reputation management.