One of the most important keys to a successful job search today is to be visible -- in a positive way -- online. The reason it is a requirement for successful job search (and careers) today?
Understand that while you can strongly influence your your reputation online, you cannot control it. Google and the other search engines, social media and other websites, and other individuals can and will impact your reputation.
Today, ignoring your online reputation is not optional!
Because employers and recruiters are relentlessly searching the Internet in general and social media in particular:
If you aren't paying attention, your job search and career can be negatively impacted:
Fortunately, you have many options today to create and to manage your reputation. 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.
Avoid online crankiness and unprofessional behavior.
Focus on being fround for the right terms for your job and profession. This means understanding and using the "best 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, essential both for job search (and being visible in employer ATS systems) as well as in protecting and promoting your personal online reputation. 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 being appropriately visible in Google search results. If you aren't easily found there, you are "invisible."
NOTE: Protecting your online privacy is good, but being invisible online is most definitely not good.
Being invisible means a much longer job search for most jobs.
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. These provide credibility:
Depending on your field, you should build professional visibility on other social media relevant to your profession.
Then, 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.
Pay attention to what Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other sites show the world about you (or about someone with the same name you have). I know too many job seekers who had a tough job search until they discovered (and fixed) personal reputation problems which were really mistaken online identity situations:
Until both of those job seekers adjusted their names to differentiate themselves from the disbarred attorney and dead porn star, they were ignored by employers. Few businesses want to hire a disbarred attorney, and those employers who received an application form the deceased porn star didn't take them seriously (clearly a joke, right?).
These kinds of situations can pop up over night as someone becomes a person that employers would avoid. Unless you are paying attention, you won't know that
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.
Know what is visible online associated with your name, whether or not the person involved is actually you. Search Google for your professional name on a weekly basis. Check the first 3 pages of search reesults to see what you find. Be wary of invisibility. Also be wary of mistaken online identity. [See: Defensive Googling for details.]
NOTE: Even if the visibility is about someone else who has the same name you do, pay attention!
As described above, your reputation and job search can be damaged by someone using the same name. 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. Also periodically check the search results on Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Yahoo.
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 recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, 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+.