Want to boost your chances of being found by executive recruiters and hiring authorities sourcing top talent? Of course you do.
Whether you’re actively job seeking or think you may be in the future – few people aren’t facing this challenge these days, when no job seems to be permanent – you need a strong online identity. Even if you feel secure in your job, you need to be visible online. That’s just the way it is today.
Most recruiters and hiring decision makers source and assess talent through Google, LinkedIn and other search engines. You’re being tapped or tossed aside based on what they find (or don’t find) about you online.
All other things being equal with your competitors, having the strongest online footprint can tip the scales in your favor. People assessing candidates like you gravitate toward those who stand out the most online. See my post, Does Your Online Identity Scream “Hire Me”?
Many of my clients find me because of my online presence, which I’ve worked hard to develop over the years. In our discussions about online identity, they want to know what “quality search results” means and how to improve their online reputation.
It takes time for online identity-building to gain traction, especially if you’re trying to outdistance others who share your name, so get started on improving and monitoring what people find online associated with your name. Two first steps:
1. Set up Google Alerts for “your name” (use quotes) in various forms, including middle name and/or initial and typical misspellings. Google will email you links to whatever is newly published online that includes your name.
2. Search “your name” on Google, Bing and other major search engines once or twice a week, to stay on top of what others find when they search your name.
Stay on-brand and relevant while being visible to your target employers.
What’s that, you’re not targeting any specific companies? You don’t want to limit yourself? You want to keep your options open to a variety of positions? If this is how you’re working your job search campaign, you need to go back and do the branding work with my Executive Branding Worksheet before moving ahead with your online campaign.
Without a clear target, how can you possibly differentiate your brand, ROI value and best-fit qualities, and create career marketing communications (online and offline) that will hit home, attract your target audience and clearly distinguish you as a good hiring choice?
So, identify and know your target audience. Determine what challenges they’re facing right now that you’re uniquely qualified to help them overcome. Find out what they’re seeking in best-fit candidates.
Keep your online brand messaging relevant to your target and build it around what will resonate with them. Position yourself on sites that are relevant to and frequented by them.
What’s in the first several pages of search results for “your name” (use quotes around your name when you search) on Google, Bing and other search engines?
How many results are about you? How many are accurate and on-brand – the kinds of things you want recruiters and hiring decision makers to know about you? How many are about someone with the same name as you?
For the ones that are actually about you, do you find any digital dirt – anything that will tarnish your reputation and brand?
Depending upon the source of the “bad” search result(s), you may be able to replace those spots with “good” ones, by generating more search result and gradually pushing the negative ones off the first page of results, and down to the bottom of the list.
Digital dirt may never entirely go away – a deep search will likely uncover it – but try for a stellar first impression of you. Work on making the first few pages of search results positive ones.
Do you find information about you that you didn’t put there? If the information has been aggregated by the site, make sure it’s accurate. If it’s not what you want people to find about you, see if you can correct it and align the focus with the rest of your brand communications plan.
What do you do if you have the same name as someone else who has a strong online presence? What if someone with your name is known for doing something awful, and is all over the search engines?
Here’s what online job search expert Susan P. Joyce suggests in her post, What If Your Name Is Jared A. Loughner?
• If something bad surfaces about someone else with the same name, find a way to address it in your existing online profiles and other visibility (resumes posted on various job sites, etc.), possibly even in a cover letter or blog post.
• Emphasize your location or your profession or your age or something else that clearly differentiates you from the bad guy or gal.
• Include a good head shot of yourself in your profiles – not one so “smooth” and perfect that it looks like you bought it from iStockPhoto, but a good one that is definitely of you.
Note that Susan includes her middle initial “P” in her name, across her online and real-life communications, to distinguish herself from the many other Susan Joyce’s out there.
Merely creating several online profiles with the same information isn’t enough. If you’ve done your branding work, and created your resume, biography and other career materials, you should have a suite of documents and brand bites to pull from. And don’t forget to include the things you’re passionate about away from work. They’re all part of your brand.
You need a good mix of static profiles/web pages and vibrant real-time content:
— A personal website (or better yet, a blogsite) to use as your one-stop hub, with branded career bio (your “About” page), other career marketing pages and links to all your social networking and social media activity.
— Online profiles- LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, ZoomInfo, Google Profiles, VisualCV, About.me, relevant professional associations
— Express your opinions, showcase your expertise and add value by:
- Blogging on your own blogsite, guest blogging, blog commenting
- Joining conversations and starting your own on Twitter, Facebook, other social networks
- Contributing to E-lists, online forums, message boards
- Contributing to discussions on LinkedIn Groups, LinkedIn Answers, Yahoo Answers
— Publish white papers on relevant sites
— Post book reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online booksellers
— Send out press releases to print and digital media to tell the world when you’ve accomplished something noteworthy
More specifics in my post, 10 Keys to Amplify Your Executive Brand Online.
Work on continuously building more and more search results for your name and increase your number of diverse and accurate results on the first few pages.
Comment on blogs with strong “Google juice” (meaning, sites that Google and other search engines deem authorities because they’re content-rich, have been existence for a long time, and have a strong following, among other things). Your comments will likely land high up in search results for your name based on the strength of the site.
For that matter, focus on strong sites to build up your volume of search results – LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, etc. Any activity on strong sites will likely result in those web pages (with your name on them) landing towards the top of your list of search results.
Express the same personal brand message, designed to resonate with your target audience, across all communications channels you decide to use.
I don’t mean that you should use the same information over and over. I mean that you should communicate the same kind of message. Introduce some new information on each of your online profiles, so they don’t all read exactly the same.
Put yourself in the place of people assessing you through your online identity and deciding whether to hire you or do business with you. If your brand message and focus varies from one real-life setting to the next or from one social network to the next or from one website to the next, your target audience won’t clearly see your promise of value to them. You’ll confuse them.
Use the same name or handle across all channels, as you’re building your online footprint, so that you’re easy to find and distinguish.
All of your career marketing communications must consistently be relevant to your target companies and be adjusted if your target audience changes.
photo by Vince Alongi