Count on the fact that employers will Google your name before they offer you a job. So as a job seeker, online reputation management has to be a job search priority.
“Go ahead, Google me.” Can you imagine yourself saying those words to a prospective employer? If not, your job search may be in jeopardy since most employers will Google you, whether you want them to or not.
An Internet search is a convenient way for an employer to research a job candidate. But employer-based Google searches aren’t just a matter of convenience. If they hire you, your online presence will be a reflection of their company. And that means unflattering photos, inappropriate comments and other questionable content can sabotage your chances with most employers.
As you strategize your job search, it’s a good idea to move online reputation management to the top of your to-do list. Recognizing that it may take a little time to completely optimize your presence on the Internet, the sooner you get started, the farther ahead you’ll be when you begin submitting resumes to employers.
The first step is the easiest: Google your name. Although search engines now customize search results by location and other factors, the search results you see will pretty much be the same results employers will see when they Google your name. We recommend going at least five pages deep, taking note of any pages that could negatively impact your job search.
Clean Up Social Media Profiles
Social media profiles (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) are minefields of potentially damaging content in a job search. Remember that picture you uploaded at your buddy’s bachelor party? Employers won’t find it nearly as amusing as your friends. The good news is that social media profiles are easy to clean up. Remove questionable photos and comments, and possibly de-friend contacts who have a habit of posting inappropriate material on your wall.
Update Online Information
When you performed a Google search on your name, you probably found several instances in which your personal information was old or out-of-date. Whenever possible, update online databases and information sources to reflect your current contact information and professional qualifications. It may seem like a small point, but database updating can help create a consistent online presence for employers.
Create a Personal Website
Unfortunately, there may little you can do to remove negative content other people have posted about you from Google search results. To minimize the impact of negative content, consider creating a personal website for your job search, using your name (or a close variation) as the domain name, e.g. www.JaneDoe.com. In addition to creating an online resource full of valuable content for employers, your website will shoot to the top of the Google search results, pushing negative content farther down the list – and off employers’ radar.
Generate Professional Content
Another technique you can use to push negative material farther down the list is to write new online content – professional articles, white papers, blog posts, etc. that can be posted on trade association websites and other locations across the Internet. It may take a little time for new material to rise in the search rankings, but the advantage is that employers will be greeted with a volume of professional content when they Google your name.