Everything you say and do online could be seen by a potential employer or colleague and have a lasting impact on your professional reputation. As a result, building and maintaining a positive online presence is critical.
Consider the following steps:
Conduct a Search
It's important to know what information exists about you online. Type your name into several search engines as each may reveal slightly different results. You can refine the search – helpful if you have a common name – with additional details like your hometown, alma mater or former employers.
A good way to monitor your online reputation is to set up a search alert for yourself, using Google or a similar alert service. With this free tool, you'll be updated every time something new is said about you online.
Prepare a Clean–up Effort
If you find unfavorable content about yourself, contact the site's owner or webmaster to ask that it be removed. Keep in mind, though, that you may not be able to eliminate all negative information. Be prepared to discuss this content in the interview should the hiring manager ask.
Moving forward, think twice about making statements online (or in other venues that could then be made available on the Web) that could be seen as controversial. This isn't limited to your own web pages and profiles. Also keep in mind your friends' blogs and Facebook posts, photo-sharing sites, discussion forums, news sites, and the like.
Enhance Your Digital Presence
The following steps will help enhance your online presence:
- Build your profile. All of the profiles you establish should be complete. With LinkedIn, for example, this means adding a photo and providing details about your responsibilities and accomplishments for each position you list.
- Use keywords. Within each profile, include keywords that recruiters or hiring managers might search for, such as certifications, skills, and specialized technology or industry expertise.
- Update. Maintain an active presence on any website you join. Update your profiles regularly to reflect new accomplishments, skills and education.
- Stay current. Remain apprised of new features and policies, particularly changes to privacy policies, on the sites you frequent.
- Contribute. Show your expertise by participating in social networking groups and commenting on industry blogs.