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Why do you need to self-Google regularly, whether or not you’re job hunting?
To know what people who Google “your name” will find out about you.
And to safeguard your online reputation and personal brand.
Social recruiting is the norm for executive job search
Before we hire just about anyone, most of us will Google them to find out more about them and the services or products they offer.
Executive recruiters and hiring managers at your target companies are no different. If you’re a candidate of interest, they will Google “your name” to find out as much as they can about you.
The hiring process is costly. Hiring professionals don’t want to waste time and money on candidates who are unacceptable or undesirable.
They use social media to source and assess candidates.
And they may dig deep, doing advanced searches and reviewing many pages of search results.
Anything you post to your social media accounts that is open to the public will be available to them, to help them decide whether you’re a potential fit for them.
Does your online presence scream “Don’t hire me”?
If hiring professionals find nothing or nothing much of substance when they search “your name”, you are as good as invisible to them. They’ll doubt your viability as a candidate. So they’ll probably move on to the next name on their list and focus on candidates with a more robust online presence.
Along with Google, Bing and other major search engines, they will search on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media.
Conversely, if they find negative search results for you, you’ll be tainted to them, and most likely also be thrown out of the running.
Don’t forget that LinkedIn and other social networks are search engines, too, just like Google or Bing.
Because LinkedIn is the most important social network for job search and career, this should be where you devote most of your online job search time.
The LinkedIn search engine pulls results from the content in members’ profiles. And hiring professionals have special tools for deep and advanced search on LinkedIn.
Because they rely so heavily on LinkedIn to source candidates, what you do with your profile really matters.
Job search social media expert Hannah Morgan described what’s going on, when these decision makers view candidates’ social media activity:
“Employers want to hire someone who has strong decision-making abilities, and good judgment and ethics. Would you want to work with someone who said unkind things about you, lied or re-shared information you told them in confidence? This is why employers have begun using social media as a recruiting tool. The things people post online shed light on their judgment and professionalism.
If this angers you to the point of wanting to delete your social media accounts, think twice. Without a social media presence, 57 percent of employers say they won’t even consider 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 people are finding out about you
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.
You may say:
“But 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 these days.
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?
- If you have a common first and last name, are you distinguishable from the others with your name?
- 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 various people.
Social media engagement
Is your social media presence non-existent, barely active, 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 elsewhere – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
If you’re not there, people are going to wonder whether you’re social media savvy and know how to operate in the new world of world.
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 for all your profiles.
Reasons to rule you out
If hiring decision makers are inundated 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. Those who have squeaky-clean online footprints.
How to control what shows up in Google results for “your name”
You can absolutely control what you put online. And if you’ve flubbed and posted something regrettable to one of your social media accounts, you can take it down.
Going forward, you may want to keep some of your social media posts private, so only select people will see them. But even this could backfire on you.
What if someone else posted about you?
If someone else has posted untrue negative things about you online, Glassdoor suggests:
“The first step toward removing sensitive information or unflattering images that have been shared without your consent is to contact the webmaster of the website sharing it.
Google can only stop this content from showing up in search results; it can’t remove it from the internet.
If a website has deleted the content in question but it’s still showing up in Google search results, you can use the search engine’s quick tool to make a formal removal request.
If, on the other hand, the webmaster isn’t responsive or won’t grant your request, you’ll need to provide the following to Google:
• Website URL
• Google search URL
• Screenshots of the material
Google’s troubleshooter can guide you through these steps.”
What if you can’t get the bad stuff taken down
If there’s no way to get negative things about you deleted, you can counter the impact by building more positive search results for yourself, to push the negative ones further down in search results.
Here are some ways building your personal brand online helps you do that:
Post updates on LinkedIn
Executive resume writer Erin Kennedy posted an extensive list of ideas for LinkedIn updates, in a LinkedIn update:
- Share a post you enjoyed.
- Share a video you learned from.
- Share statistics from something in your industry.
- Share statistics about something you recently read about.
- Write about something you feel strongly about.
- Ask a question.
- Start a poll.
- Make a Top 10, 20, 50 or 100 list.
- Make a list of your favorite companies.
- Share an event.
- List your Top 10 Job Search/Interviewing hacks.
- List a roundup (and tag) your favorite industry expert.
- Share your worst interview or your best interview.
- Share how you stay productive working from home.
- Share your favorite technology for working from home.
- Share advice about your job search or your industry.
- Start a Live.
- Crowdsource for the best advice in your industry.
- Answer common questions about your field/job.
Publish articles on LinkedIn
The biggest stumbling block for most people, aside from finding the time to write, is coming up with things to write about.
A good place to start is by building your articles around topics that represent your skill sets or areas of expertise. Those things are typically the relevant keywords and phrases you use in your resume, LinkedIn profile and other job search materials.
Your LinkedIn profile should include plenty of keywords relevant to the kinds of jobs you’re seeking. These keywords should be in your Profile Headline, About section, Skills & Endorsements section, Experience section and throughout the content in your profile.
Comment on other people’s LinkedIn updates and articles
Your comments don’t have to be long – even a few sentences can have a big impact – but they should be meaningful and support your subject matter expertise and thought leadership.
Start your own website or blog
Nothing works like a blog to build credibility and visibility around your personal brand, value proposition, industry subject matter expertise, and thought leadership.
Purchase a domain name for “your name”, set up your blogsite, and post new articles regularly.
Once your blogsite gains even a little traction, it will likely be one of the first search results when people Google “your name”.
A personal blog builds real-time content and creates a well-organized resource for people assessing you to find out, or be led to, everything you want them to know about you. It does all this much better than a static website, and also demonstrates that you’re social media savvy.
A blog-based website can be configured to look and act like a traditional website, but have the SEO-friendly (search engine optimization) content-building benefits of a blog.
Comment on other people’s blogs
Along with building more quality search results for “your name”, blog commenting is a great way to build visibility and credibility for your subject matter expertise
It’s also a good way to connect with people who can help you achieve your career goals.
If you haven’t been very active with social networking, blog commenting can lead you to a forward-thinking community you may not have known otherwise.
For the long term, develop a manageable strategy for routine blog commenting on as many blogs as you can reasonably handle.
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. 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 supplant the bad ones.
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 Calendar, Gmail, etc.).
More About Online Identity/Online Reputation Management and Executive Job Search
How to Run a Confidential Job Search on LinkedIn
How to Use Personal Branding Video for Job Search, Without Being on Camera
7 Things Successful Executive Job Seekers Know
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Rich Marsh says
You don’t have to “Self-Google.” For many years, google has had a service that will do it for you. You can setup a Google News Alert for your name. It is very simple to do.
1) Just type in your name in the search box.
2) When results appear, click on the News tab.
3) Scroll to the bottom of the first page and you will be prompted to “Stay up to date on results for WHOMEVER?” with a button, Create Alert.
4) Push the button and Click on Show Options and make your choices.
Every day that there is news or something new posted, you will get an email with a link to it. It’s free, and it’s how I learned that my dopplegangers are an Irish Guitar Maker, and a navigator in sailboat races on the Great Lakes.
Meg Guiseppi says
Rich, thanks for mentioning Google Alerts. It’s a useful tool, but I’ve found that although I have an Alert set up for my name, I don’t get notified every time my name shows up online. I supplement Alerts with self-Googling. Many times when I Google my name, I find mentions that Alerts never delivered to me. So Alerts are not completely reliable, in my experience.
Rich Marsh says
I didn’t know that. You learn something new every day! Thanks…! Rich
Meg Guiseppi says
Glad if I helped, Rich. But sorry to have to let you know that Google Alerts is somewhat disappointing.
Mike Johansson says
Great points, but here’s the thing: This does not mention that Google shows you the results it thinks you want to see – not necessarily what a recruiter might see…. Should it also tell you how to delete cookies and go into incognito mode and/or use an anonymous browser most of the time so your Google results more closely mirror what a recruiter will see?
Meg Guiseppi says
Thanks for commenting, Mike. You make a good point. But it still makes sense to monitor your online presence for digital dirt. If you can see it, hiring professionals can see it too.
I agree that self Googling is important; I read recently that 40% of companies will check out potential candidates online before offering a role, so the impression they see of you needs to be professional.
Having your own social networking accounts (Twitter, LinkedIn etc.) plus your own blog can be helpful tools for not only demonstrating your experience but also to “owning” the front page of Google for your name so that you control your online reputation.
Meg Guiseppi says
Darren, thanks for commenting! It really is all about monitoring and taking control of your online presence, as much as possible. More and more people judge us by what they find, or don’t find, about us online.
Alex Freund says
Meg, congratulations, this is another outstanding article – as usual
Meg Guiseppi says
Alex, thanks so much for your kind comment. You’ve made my day!