Mixing business with pleasure is hard to avoid when building your brand on social media. In today’s digital world, your reputation is cemented in how you present yourself online. There’s a way to do it that is appropriate while asserting your originality. You know who you are if you’ve ever tweeted while tipsy, posted an enraged status or been tagged in an embarrassing photo from the night before. But companies looking to hire are watching.
For those unsure of how their social media footprint appears to would-be employers, Rep N’ Up is an app service that instantly analyzes and cleans up Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
“Images or texts related to alcohol, violence, indecency, [or] images with bikinis or underwear is not very welcome today,” Lior Tal, co-founder of Rep N’ Up, said.
Tal, an entrepreneur with a background in cybersecurity, helped create the the app in 2013. He also has had two other successful companies, which he sold to IBM and McAfee, respectively. Tal’s partner, PhD Eran Borenstein, is an expert in computer vision. The company was founded and is located in Jerusalem, Israel but they’re relocating to Silicon Valley.
Tal uses data from big career searching websites like Career Builder, Monster and Kaplan for his app research. The data from those sites stress the need to maintain a decent social media record. The lack of a clean social media image is likely to have financial implications for those searching for jobs, Tal said.
“You can’t hide your stuff; employers are expecting to find your social media,” Tal said. “If not, you’re not part of your community.”
Tal emphasized that it’s favorable to have a visible media presence as opposed to none at all. Going off the grid completely can have negative implications for your job search.
“When everything is private it says [to companies] they [the applicants] probably have something to hide, ‘I should watch out’,” Tal said.
Agreeing with this sentiment, Scott Talan, Assistant Professor of Communications and Media at American University said the app is something worth sharing with his students. He teaches social media, public relations, brand and career building to savvy, sometimes share-happy students.
“We all need to practice better digital hygiene,” Talan said. “Sharing too much can be as bad as sharing too little these days. Having an app that helps monitor what post and share may be a good tool to try out.”
Hiring someone who has a personality that fits in with the company is crucial to recruiters, Tal said. So much so that companies HR department members are likely to send you a friend request before an interview or further conversations with the company.
“Hiring the wrong person, with the wrong personality, has dire consequences [and] can cost a lot of money,” Tal said. “Ninety-three percent of HR companies in the U.S. are looking at social media even before they invite you to an interview, sometimes they send you a friend request [beforehand]. Eighty percent of the users accept the friend request.”
Of course, the best approach to social media is to think before you post. Companies want to learn as much about you as possible, Tal said, so let them learn only positives about you. You have control over what you post, for the most part.
“When you do things when you’re drunk or upset, that’s really when the bad things happen [online],” Tal said.
Some recent graduates don’t think what they post is worth censoring. This comes down to a need for more education on what is acceptable to post on social media. Katie Green, the Digital Outreach Coordinator at the Ocean Conservancy in D.C. is a recent grad and thinks Rep N’ Up could help people who don’t realize the negative potential of “casual” posts.
“With each new generation, posting online becomes more and more casual,” Green said. “Many young people don’t realize the potential consequences of posting inappropriate material on their personal social media accounts. This is going to be an issue for so many millennials in the upcoming years.”
Tal is seeing success in the number of users for the app and the number of users that recommend the service to others.
“More and more people are singing up and recommending their friends,” Tal said. “The conversion of people who sign up and recommend their friends is about forty percent.”
The app is free to review analyzed text or content from social media profiles. For the reviewing of visual content or images, it costs one payment of $9.99. And if you recommend five friends to use the app, that service is free for you. Since employees are constantly monitored online throughout their time at a company, Rep N’ Up’s service is continuous as long as the user gives permission to keep analyzing their social media accounts.
The app uses machine learning to determine what makes up an image. It not only finds images with alcohol and nudity, it looks for poor communication skills, typing mistakes and grammar mistakes. These errors tend to show a person’s inadequate communication skills that can make it hard for them to get hired, Tal said.
“Our application is something that is really important to users,” Tal said. “[It’s] kind of like an antivirus for your social media profile.”
“[We’re] partnering with career centers at universities because they have the same goals as we do,” Tal said. “They spread the word to university students, the importance of cleaning your reputation.”
Rep N’ Up is partnering with over 15 career centers in the U.S to encourage career advisors to get students to sign up. Their partnerships with schools are free. One school they’re working with is Northeastern, which Tal says gives students there an advantage over other schools that choose not to promote the app in Boston.
“[Students have] better chances to get a job,” Tal said. “It’s easier to find internships and jobs for the types of students that we [help]. We make them look better.”
So far, no D.C.-area schools have partnered with Rep’n Up.
American University’s career center currently does not point students to social media managing apps. Director of Experiential Education at AU, Brian Rowe says the career center encourages using social networking professionally. “The Career Center doesn’t endorse any specific app or websites that help students professionalize their online brand, but we do have information that students can review to make sure they are approaching social media in a manner that helps their networking and professional brand,” Rowe said.
A career advisor at the AU School of Communication, Julia Beyer, confirmed the resources available at the career center about online branding.
“I have advised students to sign up for Google alerts under their name to monitor what is on the web about them,” Beyer said. “We also frequently share tips for creating a consistent brand.”
A Digital Specialist at the Ocean Conservancy, Jackie Yeary, questions the certainty in when something is really deleted from the internet.
“I think it could be useful for young professionals but once something is on the internet, it’s out there,” Yeary said. “Removing content from your Facebook won’t be deleted forever, just simply hidden for the time being.”
Aside from students and young people, the No. 1 profession in D.C. that this app is useful for, Tal said, is politicians. Second, is upscale lawyers, doctors and accountants because their reputation relies heavily on word of mouth and clients’ opinions. A bad social media post or string of posts could cause them to lose customers, and politicians can lose credibility.
“Forget about their political views for a second, what they do on social media is problematic,” Tal said.
Ultimately, the social media reputation you create is crucial in finding and keeping a job. Employers won’t overlook your offensive posts and ‘take you as you are’. That is not an advantageous outlook on presenting yourself in the job search.
Tal compares it to drinking responsibly. Having social responsibility can be just as essential to your career and reputation.