"Social proof" is your public Internet activities - your public profiles and contributions - reviewed by recruiters, potential employers, and others. Without knowing you, those activities are proof of who you really are.
Social proof is very important for a successful job search, today.
Creating social proof doesn't require spending 10 hours a day dumping content and comments on every social network available. Spend time creating focused, consistent content on LinkedIn and other social networks appropriate for you and your career.
According to an excellent study funded by Microsoft in 2009, eighty percent (80%!) of employers and recruiters conducted an Internet search on the names of applicants.
Today, very close to 100% of employers probably do that Internet search on applicant names - a quick and easy "background check" on each applicant under consideration, to help eliminate the obvious "bad fits."
Your Internet activities reveal a great deal about you, and demonstrate the level of your skills, capabilities, experience, and knowledge.
You must manage your public actions so that what is found shows you in a positive light. This need is not going to disappear. It is only going to become stronger in the future.
Separate your public "professional" or "business" identity from your private, informal, "fun" or "angry" identities. Don't let those crazy photos you posted in college or your political rants on your local newspaper's website scare a potential employer away.
If you absolutely must rant on a topic or post questionable photos or comments, use a different identity from the identity you use for work and job search.
Employers are accustomed to a degree of "exaggeration" in many resumes and job applications, and, not surprisingly, they don't like it.
Did you really attend that school, earn that degree, work for that employer, and hold that job title? Are you really the skilled communicator you claim to be? Do you demonstrate the expertise your resume says you have?
Today, thanks to social media and search engines, it is much easier for employers to uncover exaggerations. It is also easier to shine in comparison with other job seekers.
A LinkedIn Profile provides "proof" accepted by most employers. While resumes may contain those hated exaggerations, your LinkedIn Profile, visible to your friends and professional colleagues, is expected to be an honest representation of your career facts.
Compare your resume with your Profile. Your LinkedIn Profile and your resume should agree, containing the same dates, same job titles, same employers, etc.
Social proof is not optional, but it is also not hard to develop, thanks to LinkedIn and Google. Just remember that potential employers may see everything you post publicly with your professional name, and act accordingly.
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+.