The Reviews You Leave can Impact Your Reputation, Too

• October 28, 2013

Be careful when you leave a review about someone else on a third party review site. You could be revealing more about yourself than you believe, and you could be damaging your reputation.

A recent Forbes article told a particularly grim tale that demonstrates this reality. Millions of patients left reviews on a site called “Patient Fusion.” Most of them had to believe the reviews were private, since almost everyone who reviewed the doctors offered sensitive medical information, often under their own name. The reviews got out to the public, and were attached to contact information as well as real names. Some of them made it clear that the reviewers were suffering from STDs.

It doesn’t take much imagination to consider how revealing that you have an STD to the world at large, accidentally or on purpose, could create a big reputation problem. Patient Fusion is an extreme case—you’re usually not going to leave reviews that are this personal--But it’s still an important case, one that demonstrates that reviewers are revealing as much about themselves as they are about the company.

For example, let’s imagine that you left a scathing review of a company that you did business with. You weren’t fair, balanced, or professional. In fact, you went off on an infuriated rant about how you were mistreated and how the company is the worst company you’ve ever done business with. Now imagine you’re an employer, and this review that you’ve written shows up in a Google search for your name. Will the employer see someone who is calm, polite, and easy to work with? Or will your potential boss see a hothead with high expectations, prone to flying off the handle whenever you don’t get your way?

The situation gets even stickier when you leave “former employee” reviews. Indeed.com offers the option for former employees to review the work experience of just about every company on the planet. It wouldn’t take long for a recruiter to dig up any negative comments that you might have left about your former employer. They may have been well-deserved, but they won’t make you look very good in the eyes of a new potential employer. Heaven help you if you post the review while you’re still employed. Fortunately, there’s a silver lining in all of this.

If you’ve left inappropriate reviews you usually have the option to log in and delete those reviews, or at least edit them so that you portray yourself as reasonable, fair, and professional.