Make no mistake. Your online reputation matters. People are Googling you before deciding whether to interview you for a job, hire you or do business with you. If fear of exposing yourself online is holding you back, reconsider. Most of us can no longer ignore our online identities.
Studies show that by far, most recruiters and hiring professionals reject candidates based on what they find or don’t find about them online. Given two equal candidates, in terms of skill sets, education, work history, and all around good fit for the job, they are likely to choose the one who has more quality search results.
How does your online footprint compare to your competitors in the executive job market? When someone Googles your name, will they find plenty of varied on-brand information about you, supporting your value promise to your target employers?
If you need help defining your executive brand and value promise, and creating your brand resume and career biography, see:
There are many places and ways to build your online footprint. Here are 10 that I recommend and help my clients develop:
1. Build a website, blog, or web portfolio of documents using the domain “yourname.com”.
You’re practically guaranteed the #1 spot in search results for your name if you own that URL. If your name is taken, try adding your middle initial, or some identifier – “JohnSmithCIO.com”.
I recommend a blog-based website over a static website or web portfolio. Nothing works as well as a blog to build visibility and credibility for your brand and subject matter expertise. Google LOVES blogs and seeks them out over static sites, because the content constantly expands, even if you only post a few times a month.
Executives are being found and offered plum opportunities by their target employers because their blogging activity positioned them as subject matter experts, and a good fit for the companies.
For some blogging executives, new positions are created to fit them into organizations. Their promise of value is that apparent. Want to tap into the “hidden job market”? Start blogging. And stream your blog posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking platforms (see below).
Even if you don’t plan to develop a blog or website, it’s important to claim your name online by owning the domain. Also purchase URLs for typical misspellings of your name. GoDaddy is a good, inexpensive (about $10/year) place to do this.
If you don’t develop a website with your personal URL, have it forwarded to your Google Profile (see below). When people type “yourname.com” into a browser window, they’ll be led to solid information about you.
Read all about it in these posts:
These high-profile sites have such strong link weight that they’ll get your personal profile indexed by Google fast and, once your profiles gain traction, they should land on page one of search results for “your name”.
The idea here is to switch around the information a bit in each profile – at least within the top few paragraphs – avoiding duplicate content and providing a little bit more information for people assessing you to find.
LinkedIn is an absolute essential job search networking tool, but your fully-fleshed out, keyword-rich, brand profile also serves as a passive job search tool. Recruiters and hiring decision makers routinely search LinkedIn to source and assess top talent.
See my free ebook, Executive Personal Branding and Your LinkedIn Profile.
One of the major benefits of a Google Profile is that your gravatar appears in the search result, if you’ve uploaded a photo, and usually lands at the bottom of page one for your name – a real attention-grabber.
Hiring professionals run searches on ZoomInfo when they’re filling jobs. You may find that ZoomInfo has already aggregated a profile for you. Go in and brand up your profile, if one exists. Otherwise create one.
With multimedia and interactive features, a VisualCV can stand in for a web portfolio. You can upload your resume, biography, and other documents as PDFs, and add links to your online profiles and anything else related to you on the web.
ONLINE PROFILES and CONTENT-BUILDING
6. Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks
Create keyword-rich brand profiles (or bios) on these and other social networking sites. Establishing presence here positions you as up-to-date and social media-savvy. Come back and work on leveraging all these social networks have to offer.
7. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online booksellers
Create profiles and write book reviews on publications relevant to your industry and subject matter expertise.
8. Relevant Professional Associations
Set up your profile and start writing articles. Choose sites where the membership list and articles you publish will be open to search.
See Job-Hunt.org’s monster list of over 1,000 national and international Professional Associations and Societies.
9. Blog Commenting
Even if you never build your own blog, you can significantly extend your online footprint by posting comments on strong blogs, especially if you’re the first-responder – your comment will usually stay at the top of the queue.
10. Guest Blogging
You get the idea – continue building on-brand online content. If you can become a resident guest blogger on a strong site that includes an “About” page for you, so much the better.
See my Job-Hunt.org article, Build Your Personal Brand Online by Guest Blogging.
NOTE: If you don’t have a personal website, include a link to your VisualCV or Google Profile when you guest blog or comment on blogs, so people will be led to the brand-reinforcing information you want them to know about you.