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Monitor and Influence Your Online Visibility

By Susan P. Joyce

One of the most important keys to a successful job search today is to be visible -- in a positive way -- online. This is called "personal online reputation management."

The reason it is a requirement for successful job search (and careers) today? Because employers and recruiters are relentlessly searching the Internet in general and social media in particular:

  1. To find candidates qualified for their job openings.
  2. To learn more about the job applicants and job candidates who have applied for their jobs.

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.


Being Smartly Visible 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.

Learn more about Personal SEO in Job-Hunt's Guide to Personal SEO including the top 25 keywords for your job search.

An effective online presence requires both a very good offense as well as a defense.

First: A Good Offense

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.

Your Professional Name

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.

Your Professional Visibility

Using your professional name (above), set up and maintain a good online presence in the usual sites:

    Both powerful and effective as well as nearly unavoidable. This is the "happy hunting ground" for most recruiters seeking good job candidates. If you do nothing else, create and maintain a solid LinkedIn Profile. [More info: LinkedIn for Job Search.]
    Like LinkedIn, Twitter has very good visibility with Google. So what you post on Twitter will be noted by Google, so post carefully. [More info: Twitter for Job Search.]
    Facebook is very popular and is searched often by employers and recruiters, but it is not really a "professional" social network. So, if you use it in association with the name you use in your job search, use it very carefully! No stupid photos/videos or nasty comments. [More info: Facebook for Job Search.]

Then, still using your professional name, find ways to demonstrate your knowledge, expertise, and communications skills using these sites:

  1. LinkedIn Groups
    LinkedIn members can belong to 100 Groups, but the average number is seven. Join Groups for your profession, industry, location, former employers ("corporate alumni"), schools and universities you have attended (more "alumni"), specific products or services you know well, and any other Group that will enable you to demonstrate expertise. Groups are an excellent way to discover the thought leaders and other good contacts for your job search.
  2. LinkedIn Posts/Pulse
    If you don't own your own blog, post carefully-written, thoughtful articles on LinkedIn. If LinkedIn's content editors like your post or it becomes popular, they may add it to LinkedIn's Pulse which will bring it much more visibility.
    SlideShare is owned by LinkedIn, so it integrates well with LinkedIn. Post your articles as well as presentations (like PowerPoint) on your SlideShare account.
    Pinterest is growing in popularity and is a great site to use if you are not excited about writing. Post your photos, and grow your visibility. Be sure to add "photographer" to your LinkedIn Profile and resumes.
    YouTube is owned by Google, so the videos you make visible on YouTube will also be visible in Google (careful!). If video is your "thing" more than writing, YouTube is a great venue, and you'll be able to call yourself a producer or director on your resume and LinkedIn Profile.
    You can write a very short book for Amazon, publish it on Kindle, and set up your Amazon author page. Nothing defines you as an expert like writing a book on a topic. Go to to publish your Kindle book (a Word document will work). The good news is that you'll also get paid when someone buys your book, and be entitled to add "author" to your LinkedIn Professional Headline!

Many other options exist and will develop in the future. Just be sure to keep your personal and your professional personas separate.

Second: A Good Defense

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.

1. Practice Defensive Googling

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.

2. Use Google Alerts

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.]

More Information

About the author...

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 Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.