The Online Reputation Checklist
You have seven seconds to make a first impression, and your time starts the moment your name is typed into a search bar. To put this in perspective, 80 million names are Googled daily, 77% of employers do a Google pre-screen on applicants, and 35% of these employers eliminate candidates based on negative content.
This new step in the hiring process can spell trouble for applicants, but follow our checklist below and you can turn this threat into a huge opportunity!
What do you find? Almost everyone falls into three troubling categories that our checklist will remedy:
- Negative Content: An unnoticed tagged photo, a post by a disgruntled ex-colleague or spouse, or even an impulsive 4 a.m. tweet can spell disaster for your online reputation, and your job search. With the right strategy you can replace undesirable content with positive results, pushing the negative stuff out of sight.
- Low-ranking content: What good is your LinkedIn profile or personal website if potential employers cant see it? Many people work hard to create a positive online presence, but when you Google their name, none of it shows up. This makes employers think that you are inexperienced or unimpressive, you’ve just missed a huge opportunity to stand out in a very crowded job market.
- No content at all: If you have nothing about you on the web, employers will assume that you’re irrelevant and inexperienced. Continue with the checklist to quickly create positive, visible results.
Buy Your Domain Name:
This is a crucial first step because a domain name is the first thing that Google considers when it ranks search results. Purchasing from services like Godaddy or Register.com is a cheap and easy way to own your domain. If someone else already has your name, try using your middle initial or purchasing a .net or .org (the two best ranking extensions behind “.com”)
Create a Personal Website:
[pullquote]“Blogging is a great way to keep up in your industry, network without looking desperate, and leverage the fact that you have more time on your hands than people who have jobs.” Penelope Trunk[/pullquote]A personal website or blog is the central hub for your entire online reputation. This is the perfect place to paint a picture of yourself that tells so much more than the generic bullet points on your resume. People make hires when they have a feeling that the candidate will fit in with the company culture, so while a resume and professional bio are a must on your website, also feel free to include other information that illustrates who you are as an individual.
One good way to show your value and relevancy as a candidate is by blogging. With a blog you can show your expertise in the industry, while also giving employers a better feel for who you are as an individual, since your voice and personality will come through in your writing.
If you don’t have a personal website yet, here are some great, free site builders that tend to rank high in search engines:
Create Professional Networking Profiles
You probably already use social networks, but they might not be working to your advantage professionally. Amber Rinehard, Global Community Manager at Text 100, provided the following practical ideas for professional social networking success:
- Use Your Facebook Privacy Settings (!!): Your potential employers went to college once too, so they know what type of antics go down – but that doesn’t mean they want to see it! Make sure your Facebook photos are set to private, or better yet- don’t let people take incriminating photos of you in the first place.
- Tweet Responsibly: Take a look at your Twitter stream ask yourself, what would an employer think if he or she read my updates? Even if you use Twitter for personal versus professional reasons, it’s important to come off as professional and relevant- and yes, employers look at your spelling and grammar. Jump into relevant industry conversations by participating in a tweet chat or strike up a conversation with influencers in your industry via @ reply.
- Build a Complete LinkedIn Profile: Even if you don’t have a ton of experience yet, employers will see that you take your professional opportunities seriously. Ask your professors, peers, or former employers to provide recommendations for your profile.
Register with High-Ranking Directories:
Services like BigSight, Zerply, and BusinessCard2.com are the “yellow pages” of the Internet. They will help those Googling you find you more easily because your results will rank higher, and they only take a few seconds to set up. (IMPORTANT: be sure to link from these directories to your most relevant content online such as your personal website.)
Boost Your Info to the Top of Search Engines
By following this checklist you can ensure you exist in all the right places online, but what good is all this content if employers cant find it when they search for you? In our follow up post we are going to show you how to actually boost those profiles to the top of search engines. In the meantime, check out this great beginners’ guide to Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
If you have anything to add to the online rep checklist, please feel free to let me know in the comments section below.
By Chelsea Wagner, Blogging Intern at BrandYourself