Dick is the author of “What Color Is Your Parachute” and he understands the employment marketplace as well as anyone in the world. Google IS the new resume, and that means – for all of us, job hunting or not – managing our online reputations, making sure that, as much as possible, good stuff shows up in Google is critical.
These are my corollaries to Dick’s statement. IF Google doesn’t know who you are, you really are in trouble. When an employer posts a job on Job-Hunt, before I allow it to be visible to the world, I Google the employer’s name. If I don’t find anything, or if I find only job postings, I strongly suspect the employer is bogus. This is the key reason we need to pay attention to - and attempt to manage - our online visibility, what I’m calling our online reputations. We MAY still have some privacy left, but we have no anonymity left. So, what happens in Vegas (or in college or on vacation or at the company party), stays on the Web in various forms forever. If you don’t believe me, check out archive.org.
How many of you Google something you’re thinking about buying? A place you’re thinking about visiting? A person you are meeting for the first time? How many of you Google a potential employer? How many of you think you’ve been Googled by a potential employer? How many of you have Googled yourself recently? How many of you have Google Alerts set up on your name?
Just like every other shopper, employers Google job seekers? Is this really surprising to anyone when you think about it? Making a “bad hire” is a career limiting move for the hiring manager and the HR person, and a bad hire in a key spot can cause serious damage to the employer. So, they research the person they are thinking of hiring. The natural thing to do, if you think about it… And only 20% of employers research “sometimes,” “rarely,” or not at all. TWENTY PERCENT!
Job seekers, on the other hand, haven’t quite caught on to this situation. As you can see, 65% of them are not very concerned or not concerned at all about the possible impact of their online reputation on their job search.
I think this slide speaks for itself.
And, this is the UPSIDE to your online visibility. 86% of employers saw a positive impact from the results of their research!
This is the true story of what happened to a colleague of mine. It was a mystery, although it shouldn’t have been…
AFTER 4 months of NOTHING, they finally Googled him, and this is what they found…
Once they figured out what the problem was, it was surprisingly easy to fix. They researched and found a “clean” version of his name. Applied it in all the appropriate places, and then he got calls in for interviews. Not sure if he has landed yet, but at least he gets up to bat now.
So, how do you begin to manage your online reputation? These are the 10 steps that I recommend. First, find out what’s out there. About you and about people Google shows as having the same or a very similar name.
Grabbing your name as a domain name is very important, but FIRST you need to see what versions of your name are available as .com domain names. Using GoDaddy.com, research domain names. GoDaddy is a cheap place to buy domain names.
Then, research the name versions that are available until you find a unique name that is “clean” – no “digital dirt” associated with it. And, for most people, no one more famous - or infamous - with the same name. Looking into the future, it seems to me that we are headed into a time when we’ll all need to have names that are as unique as possible, like actors in the Screen Actors Guild or authors like David Meerman Scott. There are probably thousands of men named “David Scott” or “Jim Jones” – but when we hear “David Meerman Scott” or “James Earl Jones” we know immediately which David Scott or Jim Jones is being referenced. The first time I saw the name “David Meerman Scott,” I thought it was kind of pretentious, but, after reading his book, “The New Rules of Marketing and PR,” I realized that he was smart, implementing his own advice. Google him. He’s local, if you don’t know him, and very savvy. There are thousands of women named “Susan Joyce” – including 1 in my husband’s family. A Susan Joyce writes kids books. Another is an actress. My online brand has been important to me for a while, so I’ve differentiated myself for several years as “Susan P. Joyce.” Pick a reasonable variation of your name, playing with middle initials or middle names, changing the order – “S Patricia Joyce” for example.
4 - Once you have figured out which domain names are available and appropriate, and which ones are “clean” of digital dirt, pick the one you like the best, and register the domain. 5 - THEN, like our job seeker with the unfortunate name earlier, implement that name as your “official name” across the Internet. Establish it as your “brand name.”
To protect your brand name, you want to grab all the vanity URL’s in the biggest venues. For most of these it’s pretty easy to do. * With LinkedIn, just edit your profile and then edit your URL. * With Google, set your URL (at the bottom of the Profile page). * With Twitter, your “username” creates your twitter.com/you or the @you. We’ll talk more about Twitter usernames shortly. * Facebook is a bit more complicated (as usual), but also doable.
This is the new reality. You need to spend time participating enough in a few social media venues to have presence and credibility. I think of these as running my own broadcasting service – radio station, tv station, newspaper – for “my audience” providing what will interest and inform THEM. Think about, respect, protect, and market YOUR brand through social media No one can cover all of the thousands of social media venues, at least not without a lot of help. In the future software may help resolve this, but be careful of adding all your Tweets to your Facebook Wall and your LinkedIn Status. This is not something that only active job seekers need to worry about, this is something we all need to pay attention to, even when we are happily employed. Stay active to protect your name and market yourself as a desirable employee.
- PROFILES The profiles must be kept reasonably up to date. When you are employed, you can slack off a bit (but not much!). Focus on 2 or 3 - more IF you have the time and energy, but don’t spend too much time on the computer! 9 - ADWORDS Sign up for Google AdWords, and bid on your name (multiple versions if possible and appropriate) You only pay IF someone searches on your name - AND - Sees YOUR ad - AND - Clicks on your ad Chances are slim that you’ll spend more than $5 a month. You can set a daily limit on spending, and if your are getting too many clicks, change the wording in your ads or the words you are bidding on (your name). You might also want to bid on other keywords like “CFO resume” – or whatever is appropriate for you and unique enough that you won’t run up a big bill. 10 - BLOGS – Can be VERY effective! More about them in a few minutes…
I published a new article on Job-Hunt this week, written by Laura Labovich a job search coach in New York and former recruiter for AOL and Disney. She’s interviewing Fortune 500 recruiters. For this month’s article, Laura interviewed 2 recruiters of senior level people for Western Union, and I found it very illuminating! * Chris – the VP and SVP recruiter for WU is a LinkedIn “open networker” which means he will connect with anyone and everyone. Reaching out to him through LinkedIn gets positive attention from him. * Julie – the recruiter for “shared staff services” like legal, HR, IT, communications, etc. uses LinkedIn “substantially” (but none of the other social media except Plaxo) * Julie strongly recommended that people participate in appropriate industry groups and the Answers section. * WU posts jobs on LinkedIn groups. * Julie strongly recommended that people participate in appropriate industry groups and the Answers section. MORE information about using LinkedIn in the Resources at the end.
The more connections you have, the larger your network, out 2 “degrees from your primary connections. I have 247 connections, but my “network” is 5.5million, so any “people search” I do includes 5.5M members. They don’t get you unlimited space, so use every bit of space you get, particularly including the Summary section. * Studies have shown that people relate better to profiles with “faces” so add that photo to yours. * Use the SUMMARY section! You have around 2,000 characters of space to use in that section. Take advantage of it! * Post at least weekly status updates of what you are doing. * Pull in your blog posts, if you have a blog. * Add non-confidential, professional documents you have created to the LinkedIn Applications. More about the Professional Headlines next…
PROFESSIONAL HEADLINE: This is critical! This is what follows your name everywhere your name appears on Twitter, including in search results, Group discussions, etc. “ Unemployed” is temporary! Not your “profession.” If you don’t want to stay in the profession, don’t include it in your headline. Translate your job title into language the rest of the world understands - e.g. “junior officer” in the Army
You’ll need to establish a Google account for this, but it provides tons of space and, ultimately we hope, excellent visibility. * Paste in your resume, with as many RELEVANT details as you can find, so your Profile can be included in the search results on any of those term. * Link to all your other Profiles * Link to anything else you have available online that supports your professional image. And, it SHOULD be visible at the bottom of the first page of search results on your name.
Be sure to include your photo, preferably the one you are using on LinkedIn so people who see both will immediately know they are about the same person.
Twitter usernames ARE changeable, in the future, assuming that the name you want next is still available. But, I don’t recommend changing usernames if you can help it. Think about the username – you have 15 positions to use. The only punctuation you can use is the underscore. * Keywords for you & your next job * Marketing appeal * Easy or intuitive to spell * Easy to remember e.g. MarketingNinja (14) , BostonBranding (14), PHP_HotShot (11), RetailMBACPA (12) , MJSmithCPA (10), LinkedInLeader (14), MJSmithConsults (15), etc. Include your photo (the LinkedIn and Google Profile photo) and complete the bio.
In general, you won’t get many followers if you don’t Tweet and if your Twitter BIO is blank. To get started and build a “Following” of people who have direct access to your Tweets – Do some Tweeting – ON TOPIC for you – If you want a job in IT, Tweet about IT topics and news If you want a job in marketing, Tweet about marketing news and topics Do NOT Tweet about breakfast, lunch, the dog, the kids, your hot date tonite. No limit to the number of Twitter accounts you can have, so if your hobby is photography and you want to Tweet with the photography “community” – set up a Twitter account for that. But, keep the hobby account separate from your job search account.
I follow over 18,000 people and TweetDeck helps me do it by organizing them into columns based on groupings (like “business news” and “career pros”) or search results like #jobsearch. Follow your industry thought leaders. Set up searches on your topics (e.g. Advertising or social media or whatever interest you).
Blogs are how Huffington got started, and Scobble, and Mashable, and Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Blog, etc. WordPress is the free, open source platform that most large volume bloggers use. Your Web hosting company probably hosts WordPress blogs at no additional charge (or minimal). Google’s Blogger also provides free blog hosting. Biggest payoff is having it hosted on your own domain name. But, a lot of blogs get started and die.
Write good ORIGINAL content (search engines do NOT like duplicate content). Do NOT “borrow” someone else’s content – Google will eventually alert them and the DMCA will require their hosting company to talk your blog off line if it is infringing. To become very popular, blogs need to be promoted – Twitter is a great way to promote your blog, BTW. With good traffic (at least 5,000 visitors a month) come advertisers. You can get started with Google AdSense (where AdWords get displayed) and CommissionJunction.com. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger makes over $1M/year. Companies do buy blogs and other popular Websites with sufficient traffic and good domain names.
You can’t possibly do all of these, but here are some more options. More are available, and more will be invented soon.
For many people, lessons learned in working social media will pay off on the job, and people are definitely finding social media-related jobs TODAY. I’ve hired someone as a consultant to help me with Facebook, and I’m not alone. People are getting well-known in their fields for this (@ComcastCares for example). So, what you learn now may also help you in your career. But, then I’m a firm believer in life-long learning.