In executive job search, you need to build and safeguard your online personal brand and online reputation.
Hopefully, you know that executive recruiters and hiring decision makers at your target companies are Googling your name, once they’ve put you on their list of potential good-fit candidates.
Your search results can be the deciding factor in whether they reach out to you, or cross you off their lists.
If you don’t self-Google, you’ll never know what they’re finding.
What if there is someone with your name involved in nefarious deeds, and people assessing you think you are that person?
What if someone has posted something negative about you (whether or not it’s true), that damages your reputation and could sabotage your chances?
You’ll be out of the running without even knowing it.
“But,” you say, “I don’t have an online footprint, and I don’t want one. I don’t want to put myself ‘out there’. I don’t need to self-Google at all.”
It may well be that you can land a job without having an online footprint, but those opportunities become more and more rare, as the digital age continues to invade nearly every aspect of our lives.
Face it, just to keep pace with your competitors, you need to get with it, and take control of your online reputation.
Take a look at your online footprint right now. Type your name into a Google search, and see what you find.
- Do you “own” the first several search results?
- Or does it take several pages of results before you get to anything related to you?
- What information will people find about you when they click on those search results?
- Is it what you need them to know about you and your potential value to the companies or organizations you want to work for?
What are recruiters and employers looking for when they Google candidates?
If they know you, or you’ve already sent them your resume, they want to see evidence online backing up the claims you’ve made in your resume and elsewhere. They know that people are more likely to tell the truth in the content they post online, than in documents they send to select people.
Social media engagement
Is your social media presence non-existent, dabbling, moderately active, or super-active? At the very least, you need to have a fully-populated LinkedIn profile. And you should consider having at least some kind of presence on the 3 other platforms in the Big 4 – Google Plus, Twitter, and Facebook.
The vast majority of executive recruiters use social recruiting (social networks and social media) to source and assess talent. They’re on the Big 4, looking for people like you. If you’re not there, they’re going to wonder whether you’re social media savvy and know how to operate in the digital world.
[More suggestions in my post, 10 Best Ways to Build Your Personal Brand Online]
Studies have shown that people relate to content better when it’s associated with a photo of the author. Make sure you have a professional-looking, close-up headshot that is not looking away from the content.
Reasons to rule you out
If hiring decision makers are innundated with an overload of candidates, they’ll set the bar higher to whittle down the candidate pool. Unfortunately, that can mean that some great-fit candidates will be ruled out if they find “digital dirt”, and never given the chance to dispute the negative search results, if they’re untrue.
In a competitive job market, employers demand (and get) the very best of the best candidates, who have squeaky-clean online footprints.
The 5 key elements of a strong online personal brand
Will people find these critical elements in your search results – relevance, quality, diversity, volume, consistency? Striving to meet these elements will increase the number of search results for your name. The better your online reputation, the better you position yourself online, and the stronger your presence online, the more appealing you’ll be to the people who can most help you meet your career goals.
So, you see, you must be diligent in building and safeguarding your online reputation.
Get into the habit of self-Googling about once a week. If negative search results for your name appear, do whatever you can to have them taken down. If that’s not possible, work hard at building up positive, brand-reinforcing search results, to push the bad ones down beyond the first page.
A tip for accurate search results:
Google personalizes results based on your search history, so it’s a good idea, from time to time, to use someone else’s computer to self-Google. You may see different results. Also, it’s best to be logged out of any Google accounts (Google+, Gmail, etc.).