If a potential employer were to Google you right now, what would they find?
Whether you’re about to apply for graduate roles, wanting to connect with likeminded postgraduates or you’re considering making a career change, you need to be aware of your online reputation – it can affect your career prospects more than you may realise.
While it may not form part of an official background check, more employers than ever are now conducting online searches to learn more about potential hires. Recruiters and headhunters are also using more than just LinkedIn to find top talent, so even if you haven’t applied for a role, you never know who could be checking out your Google results.
Make sure your digital footprint is a well-pedicured one. Here are our tips for curating a professional digital presence.
What’s currently out there?
Knowledge is power – get on the front foot and research yourself. If you don’t like what you find when you search your name, there’s a good chance employers and headhunters won’t either. Take action if you find something unflattering – untag yourself from those Facebook photos, increase your privacy settings, delete posts or data from your profiles that don’t represent the professional you are today, or change your username to something that doesn’t easily link to your name. If you come across something you can’t remove, the good news is that a strong presence in other areas can help to push anything negative to the second page – out of sight for most Google users.
What do you want to be known for?
Now’s the time to think about your personal brand. If you’d like to be seen as a future leader in your field, ensure this is reflected in all of your online actions. Be strategic about what you attach your name to, taking the time to weigh up how your posts may be perceived before making them public. Read articles to the end before sharing on any public forum, and consider the source – by sharing or liking posts, you’re giving your professional endorsement, so make sure the content is worthy of your personal brand’s support.
Where should your name appear?
If you haven’t already, create and maintain a public profile on LinkedIn. With over 435 million members worldwide, it’s the largest online professional network, and the first place most employers and recruiters will look for you. Complete as many fields as possible, customise your profile URL and include an appropriate profile photo. Join LinkedIn Groups for your industry and university alumni, and participate in the discussions. These groups also provide opportunities to network with peers and thought leaders in your field.
It pays to be active on Twitter too – regular, thoughtful tweets about developments in your industry help to position you as an engaged professional. Follow interesting companies and individuals, and use industry-specific hashtags. Posting links to articles penned by thought leaders you’ve met in LinkedIn Groups can be a wise career move.
Go above and beyond
If you really want to differentiate yourself, you could consider putting your own work out there, either by blogging or running your own social media account that relates to your field. This builds the image of you online as a subject matter expert.
Did you know you can share blogs on LinkedIn’s own publishing platform? Publishing a long-form post on LinkedIn means your post becomes part of your profile (displayed in the Posts section); it’s shared with your connections; people not in your network can click the Follow button in your post to receive updates about your publishing activity; and your post is searchable both on and off LinkedIn.
You can also create your own website using a platform such as Squarespace or WordPress, which offers the possibility of registering your name for your domain. Running an account on an image-based social network like Instagram allows you to create a specific visual identity for your personal brand, and share your content in a community of over 500 million people.
Keep that momentum going
Once you have established an impressive online presence, stay proactive in taking care of it. Aside from regularly commenting, tweeting, sharing, blogging, and updating your LinkedIn profile, keep an eye on your search engine results. You can sign up to receive alerts from Google each time a new mention is made of you online. Use these to immediately address any negativity, and share any positivity. Remember your personal brand, and impress anyone who may Google you with current, well-curated content – your career will thank you for it.
Want more tips?
- Here’s how to fix your terrible LinkedIn summary
- New to LinkedIn? Here’s what not to do
- 5 tips to bring your LinkedIn student profile to the next level
Image: Office by FirmBee CC0.1.0