When a potential employer or recruiter is trying to track you down on the Internet, make it easy for them to find you. Then, they can confirm your online reputation.
If they cannot find some "social proof" of who you are, they will ignore you, and move on.
To make it quick and easy for them, some basic elements must be the same for every social network you use professionally.
Using the same elements, described below, will help employers and recruiters see the whole picture of who you are and what you can do.
Network members and employers/recruiters may not be able to be sure that they are viewing your LinkedIn Profile, Twitter account, or your other online professional profiles if you don't use the same version of your name for each of them..
When employers receive your resume or application, they will search on the name you used in that document. Consistently using the same name for your professional activities makes it easier for the searchers to find more information about you.
For example, don't be W. J. Smith on your resume, William Smith on LinkedIn, William J. Smith on your business cards, Bill Smith on Facebook, and BillyJ_MBA on Twitter if you want all of those elements to support your professional online reputation.
If they can't find your online professional visibility (a.k.a. your online reputation), they will very likely move on to the next candidate. Even if you have lived a perfect, blameless life, someone else with the same name online could have a very bad online reputation that negatively impacts you. Mistaken online identity happens often!
A LinkedIn Profile is usually at the top of the first page of search results on any name. Hopefully, you are using a clean, relatively unique version of your name on your resume and Profile, so a search on your name provides useful information that is about you and not about someone else.
[More: Managing Your Online Reputation]
Yes, you do need to use a photo! LinkedIn calls the headshot photo a "virtual handshake," and that's a very good description.
A good headshot photo is really NOT optional for use in social media today.
But don't use an informal, group photo, or a picture of you with your pet, spouse, parent, best friend, child. Use a headshot photo of you (and only you) with a neutral background behind you.
Using the same headshot photo for all of your business social media profiles helps people recognize which accounts belong to you when they see your Profile, particularly helpful with LinkedIn where many people may share the same name.
And, using the same headshot for all of your profiles helps people "connect the dots" among all of your social media activities.
Then, when the employer researches you, they will see all of your activities, and know they are the same person. They will also recognize you when you walk in for your first interview, and, hopefully, you will recognize them, too, because you will have researched them online as well.
[More: LinkedIn for Company Research]
Make it easy for employers and recruiters to see your other professional visibility, demonstrating your skill with social media and confirming your "fit" for their job, by linking the profiles to each other.
More profiles = addional social proof of who you are and what you can do.
Connect your LinkedIn Profile to your other professional social media profiles, like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and so on by editing the contact information on your Profile, which allows you to add up to 3 links.
If you don't have a personal blog or other web platform, add your LinkedIn Profile's URL to your Twitter Bio, for your business/professional Twitter account, and vice versa.
Include links to your LinkedIn Profile and your other professional social media to every resume you submit to make sure that the right social media profiles are found by the employer. It shows them you are social media savvy, and it also precludes them from thinking someone else's profile is your's.
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+.