Whether you’re seeking an entry-level position, looking to make a mid-life career change, or want to go from VP to the C-suite, your professional brand will come into play during a hiring or promotion decision.
In today’s fast-paced digital world, your online reputation must match what you present in your resume and at interviews. If a hiring manager notices discrepancies and questions content online, you’ll likely be removed from the short list.
Today your online personal brand is more important than ever before. It can influence your network, impact your job opportunities, and affect your ability to climb the professional ladder. So when’s the last time you Googled yourself to see what comes up online?
It’s a simple exercise you should do monthly, but it’s particularly important when you’re job hunting. Review what shows up: Is it positive for your professional brand? Is it unflattering? Is there nothing at all?
Start with LinkedIn
LinkedIn is often the first place people go when they want to get information about your skills and experience. Your profile must be professional, complete, and free of grammar and spelling errors. What’s more, never forget the power of a current, flattering professional headshot.
While all areas deserve focus, it’s important to pay attention to the top third of the page, as this provides the first impression if someone only spends a few seconds reviewing. GetFive career coaches suggest honing in on the headline and summary, which can convey a lot of information in a small space. This is the place to quickly highlight your core competencies and strategically inject industry keywords to help boost your placement in recruiter search results.
Egosurf with Google
Once your profile is complete, it’s likely your LinkedIn will come up on the first page of the search results if you Google your name. If not, continue to refine your profile and stay active by sharing information, commenting on your network’s posts and adding samples of your professional work.
The more positive page-one results you are featured in, the better, as it shows your professional aptitude. However, it can take decades to build up this type of professional presence online. If your only result is your LinkedIn profile, that’s a great start. The next step is to ensure you’re not featured in any negative manner in those online results.
Clean up digital dirt
If your Google results feature content that is inconsistent with how you want to be known professionally, it’s important to take action. (For example, those images from college keg parties should probably be kept private.)
Contact websites featuring negative content and request it be removed. This isn’t always possible, but if it’s particularly bad, it’s critical to try. If you find that images and other unflattering content is attributed to you via social media like Facebook, ask contacts to take them down. If they don’t, untag yourself so at least it doesn’t show up in your own profile. Finally, make all personal social media profiles private.
Your online brand is an important part of who you are as a professional. As technology blurs the line between professional and personal lives, it’s important that what you do in one doesn’t negatively impact the other. Take steps to maintain your online brand now and regularly in the future.
Looking for more information on branding yourself online? Check out Brand Yourself!