One of the most important keys to a successful job search today is to be visible -- in a positive way -- online. The reason? Because employers and recruiters are relentlessly searching the Internet in general and social media in particular:
Fortunately, you have many options today to do that. Unfortunately, if you aren't careful, you can hurt your standing as easily as you can help it. So, take care in what you do online.
Use the "right keywords" for you and your career in your online presence to draw the best opportunities to you.
This is called "Personal SEO (Search Engine Optimization)," and it is a new skill needed today. Learn it now, for a shorter job search and a better career.
An effective online presence requires both a very good offense as well as a defense.
The key to a good offense today is visibility in Google search results. If you aren't easily found there, you are invisible. Being invisible means a much longer job search for most jobs.
In addition, if you aren't found in a Google search, negative assumptions are made about your understanding of how to leverage the internet for work and about how up-to-date you are with today's basic technology tools like email, search engines, and social media.
Choose the "cleanest" version of your name for your professional persona, and then use that name consistently for your professional visibility, your professional social media profiles, your resume, your business cards, etc.
If you must rant online about sports, politics, religion, etc. do it with a different name (and email address). [See: Your Most Important Keywords.]
If possible, purchase your name as a .com domain name, and use it for your professional email, or just keep someone else from using it to confuse employers or to damage your online reputation.
Using your professional name (above), set up and maintain a good online presence in the usual sites:
Then, still using your professional name, find ways to demonstrate your knowledge, expertise, and communications skills using these sites:
Many other options exist and will develop in the future. Just be sure to keep your personal and your professional personas separate.
Not surprisingly, since Google is the key to being visible to potential employers and recruiters (your "offense"), Google is also an essential part of your defense.
If you are easily found online, hopefully the visibility is good and is actually about you, not about someone else who has the same name.
Know what is visible online associated with your name, whether or not the person involved is actually you. [See: Defensive Googling for details.]
Even if the visibility is about someone else who has the same name you do, pay attention! Your reputation and job search can be damaged by that person. Unless you are aware of the situation, you won't be able to separate yourself from that person's actions or address any issues with potential employers.
In addition to the offense described above, be sure to monitor what is going on related to you and/or your name as your first line of defense. Set up Google Alerts to monitor your name. Google Alerts can also monitor other important information related to your job search. [See 50 Google Alerts to Avoid Layoffs and Bad Employers.]
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management since 2012, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.