Hiring staff is an important, and potentially expensive decision for employers, particularly when it turns out to be a wrong one. It is therefore not surprising that many employers spend time checking far more than a candidate’s qualifications and employment history before making a commitment.
Your CV may be amazing, and you might have some great references, but chances are if your online presence paints a bad picture of you, you won’t be getting an interview.
The good news is that you can influence your online presence by being sensible about what you share, and by making sure your professional self is promoted first and foremost.
1. Google yourself:
Around 90% of recruiters will ‘Google’ your name as soon as your CV makes it into the ‘maybe’ pile, so it pays to do your own research in order to see what they might find.
‘Googling’ yourself may seem vain, but it is definitely worth doing, as you could well find some of your less-than-finer moments being displayed for the whole world to see. If you do come across anything unsavoury, you should take action to remove the offending information before it’s spotted.
It’s also worth considering that any site which you have contributed to in the past – be it leaving a review or posting a comment – might show up in search results too, so if you have posted anything that may be seen as inappropriate or rude, you may want to consider removing these.
Google has now introduced a way of requesting that information about you is removed from search results. While there is no guarantee such information will be removed, it’s certainly worth a try.
2. Use nameplate sites:
A nameplate site is a single page website that acts a bit like a virtual business card. These sites provide a great way of consolidating all of your social profiles and sites (that you actually want potential employers to see) in one place. Nameplate sites are a great, positive addition to your online presence, and can also be listed on your CV.
You could use a nameplate site to link to your portfolio, website or blog, or even a specific page on the web on which you have contributed something valuable, such as a forum thread.
Some nameplate sites will allow you to categorise who you associate with, or add tags to highlight your main areas of expertise, and sites such as Appearoo will also show a snapshot of how influential you are across social media channels.
Most nameplate sites are free, but premium features allow you to fully customise the page, and many provide some form of analytics, so you can keep track of who is viewing your profile.
Some popular examples include about.me, flavors.me and re.vu.
3. Keep control of your social media:
Privacy controls are there for a reason, and you should be using them. While many recruiters can appreciate that you want to let your hair down at the weekend, entire albums showing how you behave while inebriated, or posts you’ve left telling your friends how you are regretting how much you drank the night before are not going to look good.
Make sure you always log out of social media channels if using a shared device, or any device someone else may gain access to. They might find it funny to post a status on your behalf – you and your prospective employer may not.
Keep your private life just that – private.
4. Separate your professional and personal lives completely:
As well as making sure you have appropriate privacy controls in place on your social media channels, why not set up social media channels that are used for professional use only?
This can be a great way of demonstrating you are passionate and knowledgeable about your industry by associating yourself with the right people, and contributing to the right discussions online.
These are the social profiles you’ll want recruiters to find, and by linking them all together, you can use them to build the right kind of personal brand online.
5. Make the most of LinkedIn:
Don’t be shy to ask your peers, past employers and clients to endorse or recommend you on LinkedIn. Endorsements show potential employers that you have the right skills to perform the job you are applying for and that people are willing to vouch for this. Recommendations are even better, as they effectively act as a reference.
Being actively involved in groups on LinkedIn shows that you know your stuff, and that you possess a genuine interest for your industry.
And finally, think before you post anything online:
Bear in mind that almost anyone can see what you have published online in a matter of seconds – and that once you’ve posted it, it’s much harder to destroy the evidence!
Author: Peter Holmes is Director at prime-appointments.co.uk – an independent recruitment agency.