Employers have long known the value of background checks in reducing liability and protecting their investment in recruiting and training employees. But now employers augment this process with their own internet search.
Typically employers are looking for red flags, information that calls into question a candidate’s ethics, responsibility, or professionalism. But often employers also look for experience not listed on your resume and to verify your credentials. Managing your online presence requires proactive tracking of existing mentions and creation of new ones that will make you a stronger candidate to a potential employer.
- Do your own search. Use Google, Yahoo!, and MSN and search for various iterations of your name: “James Smith,” “Jim Smith,” “James Smith Arizona,” “Jim Smith Tucson,” “Jim Smith ABC Company,” etc.
- Evaluate. Visit each link with a mention of you and determine whether the content is positive, neutral or negative in relation to your job search. Bookmark both positive and negative mentions.
- Subtract. For all negative mentions, if it’s something you posted, delete it. If it’s thanks to a friend, contact them and ask them to remove it. Anything else, use your best judgment as to whether you might get it to disappear with a polite letter to the website owner, or whether that might make it worse. It takes only seconds to post something online, but can take months to remove it. Even once something no longer exists on the page, it can live on in cached pages, links, and other references.
- Add. Start a professional blog, participate in forums and online communities related to your field, volunteer for organizations where you may get some visibility, and create profiles for yourself on LinkedIn, Fast Company, and other online networking sites. All of these have the potential to rank high on search engines, pushing any potential blemishes in your record off of the first page of search results, and showing potential employers even more that you have to offer their organization as a new employee.
- Utilize. Once you have a good library of positive references online, think of ways that they could enhance your job search. Submit web links with your references when requested, or refer an interviewer to a link as a follow up to a question you were asked.
Take your online image into your own hands, and you can maximize your advantage and minimize any potential damage.
Photo credit: jonas_therkildsen
This is a guest post by Kristi Daeda. Kristi is a Success Coach for organizations and individuals, and counsels professionals at all levels on effectiveness and maximizing talent. She writes about career development, leadership, management, talent and job search at kristidaeda.com.