A lot of it has to do with making sure employers, recruiters, professional contacts and just about everyone knows what you're good at and what you care about. And you've got the perfect space to show what those things are: the Internet. Fine-tune your professional image with the following steps.
What's in a name search? Krista Neher, CEO of Boot Camp Digital, a social media training company, puts it like this: "Google results are now going to be your first impression, so you should treat them that way." Ideally, a vanity search would yield several websites and pages that show you the way you want to be perceived. If not, try the next few tips.
"Even if you don’t have much to say, a personal website is really powerful because it allows you to set the stage for what you want people to think about you, and you have 100 percent control of it," Neher says. "And it will likely show up at the top of search engine results." She says sites like GoDaddy make it relatively easy and cheap to buy a domain and build a site.
Say your Google search yields an unflattering local news article. "If you have strong and active social networks and a personal website that other people go to, over time, those should outrank most news stories," Neher says. She points out that Google often lists 10 websites on its first page of search results, so push the cringe-worthy article to page No. 2 by creating and actively updating several sites or social media accounts.
One type of page that may elbow out unflattering articles is an Amazon page that shows customer reviews you've written, Neher says. "If I wanted people to think I’m passionate about social media, presumably, I’ve read some social media books," she says. "So I would go on and leave reviews for all those."
Twitter can also help show others what you're about. Plus, it's an easy way to get your face in front of potential employers. "Engage with company leaders or recruiters on Twitter to learn more about open opportunities and develop relationships," tweeted Kimberley Kasper, chief marketing officer of Jobvite, in a U.S. News Careers Twitter chat. Just remember to keep your comments PG and PC. Tweets can be deleted, but screenshots live forever.
"Google Plus (owned by Google!) is the perfect tool to use to tell Google what you want it to know," tweeted online job search expert Susan Joyce in the Twitter chat. Career coach Phyllis Mufson agrees. In an article about building your online presence, she suggests starting the quick process by simply transferring your LinkedIn information to your Google Plus account.
More than 90 percent of recruiters find and contact job candidates through LinkedIn, so make sure your profile impresses them. Add a professional-looking photo, and fill out every section you can, Neher says, pointing out that the site now offers sections for volunteer experience, academic courses and more. Jenny Foss, founder of the career blog JobJenny.com, mentioned in the Twitter chat that you should also add "a compelling headline that uses both key words and draws the reader in."
When connecting with someone you don't really know – a contact with whom you briefly spoke a few months ago, an industry peer, say – don't send the default, "I'd like to connect with you" message, Neher says. "Let them know why you want to connect with them," she says. "People are much more likely to say ‘yes’ to that." Another no-no? Asking for something, such as a job or sale, upon first messaging a new contact.
Show your interest in the industry by sharing articles, writing status updates and taking advantage of LinkedIn Publisher, which allows for longer-form posts, Neher says. "I would much rather hire someone who shows some kind of passion and interest in the industry than someone who doesn’t," she adds. She suggests participating in LinkedIn groups specific to your field, too.
Personal websites, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus and Amazon are just the beginning. As you create more online personas, be sure to keep them consistent and up to date. Don't be "Billy" on Twitter and "William" everywhere else, for example, and make sure your work history on LinkedIn aligns with what you listed on Google Plus. These sites should create a strong brand, not a confusing one. "The more things you create about yourself online, the more you’re controlling your own message," Neher says.
By: Vicki Salemi