The old Las Vegas marketing line, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” has morphed into “What happens in Vegas, stays in Google (and Bing, et al.).”
Leading a “perfect” life – very low-profile, never breaking any laws, never participating in any form of social media, never doing anything that might draw negative attention, does not ensure a clean personal reputation in 2012 or beyond, unfortunately.
Nor, does such a low profile, if achieved, impress recruiters and hiring managers with your knowledge of how social media and the Internet work. OOPS! A personal profile that is too low can be a hazard to your job search and also to your career.
So, these days, everyone faces 3 issues, particularly job seekers:
1. Staying out of trouble.
Read “You Are Being Watched! And Judged!” for details.
2. Monitoring what search engines are associating with your name.
Note that this doesn’t need to be associated with you personally! Mistaken online identity is more of an issue than many people believe.
Anything a search engine associates with your name, whether it is you personally or someone else who shares the same name, can be a problem for you because an employer won’t know whether or not the person involved is you. You can lose out on an opportunity because someone else has “muddied” your name.
Read my article, Defensive Googling (on Job-Hunt.org), for details on how to monitor your name.
3. Building a positive online presence.
It is important to be purposeful in creating your online reputation. And to be active, particularly when you are job hunting.
This will actually accomplish two goals – managing your reputation, of course, and also demonstrating that you understand how to operate in the current business environment which definitely includes an online element. It will also help you distance yourself from everyone else who shares the same name.
Considering their impact in Google search results, any of these basic elements could establish your online presence and help you manage your online reputation. They would also help you recover your reputation if necessary, depending on how many you use.
Your first line of defense is your LinkedIn Profile. A LinkedIn page is almost always within the first 1 or 2 search results on a Google search results page for a search on almost any name. So, having an entry for yourself will help distance you from any “doppleganger” who may be negatively impacting your job search. If you only choose one of the options listed in this post, this is the one to choose.
Google+ is gaining in popularity and, particularly, in visibility in Google search results on someone’s names. Like Facebook, use cautiously.
You can build credibility, authority, and gain good Google search results positioning with a solid Twitter account. Keep it focused on finding and sharing good information on your topic, and you can “meet” some very nice people on Twitter.
Facebook is the largest social network, reportedly with over 1 BILLION members. Do NOT over-share personal information on Facebook. Assume that everything you post on the site will be seen by a recruiter or potential employer at some point in time! If you have been using Facebook for a while, go through and clean up your posts to remove any of the problematic topics mentioned in “You Are Being Watched! And Judged!“
Amazon has at least 3 separate segments that can be used for reputation building, management, and/or recovery. Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise doing reviews of products, books, or whatever is relevant to you and to your profession or industry. Join the the “Amazon Vine Voices ” program, and receive free stuff from Amazon to review, too! In addition, you can create a personal Amazon Profile and add a list (or two or more) of your favorite products and/or books in ListMania.
- Business Week’s Business Exchange
Find many articles on your favorite and/or trending topics, and share your discoveries or articles you have written with the other members of the Business Exchange. It’s a nice source of information on a wide variety of subjects.
“Professional content sharing platform” SlideShare was one of the original LinkedIn Applications, and it still connects very well into a LinkedIn Profile. Purchased by LinkedIn.com in 2012, Slideshare provides you with the opportunity to build visibility for your professional knowledge and expertise. Just be careful not to reveal anything that is confidential to a former – or current – employer.
Quora is a question and answer website. If you are an expert in a topic, expertly answer the questions posted on Quora to raise your visibility. Don’t respond too casually or sloppily. Bad answers can damage your resputation very visibly rather than enhancing it. Quora is a good place to learn things, too, so you can remain up-to-date in your field.
- Yahoo! Answers
Not quite as “elevated” as Quora, but around much longer, Yahoo! Answers is another place to establish your reputation as an expert.
Owned by Google, YouTube is the world’s 2nd most popular search engine (right after you-know-who). Create how-to videos in your area of expertise. If you have created videos, even Camtasia videos of your PowerPoint Presentations, you can publish them on your own YouTube Channel.
More visibility for your videos. Like YouTube, Vimeo is free for you to post your videos, and they also have an upgrade available.
- Your own blog
There are many blog platforms around where you can get started blogging – Tumblr, WordPress.com, WordPress.org, Blogger.com, etc. Make your knowledge and opinions about your topic visible – very carefully. Most blogs die or are abandoned eventually, but if you have the writing skill and the determination to write a blog, they can be powerful for increasing your personal visibility and “brand.” When you have a good blog established, carefully consider syndicating some of your posts, through a site like BlogHer.com which helps women bloggers. (Note: BlogHer.com is a WorkCoachCafe.com sponsor)
- Guest writing
If you like to write and are an expert in a topic but don’t want to commit to a weekly blog post, consider contributing articles to well-known sites like AOL, BusinessInsider, Forbes Blog, eHow.com, LifeHacker, Mashable, Patch, Yahoo, and many others. If there is a site you particularly like and visit often, check to see if they accept articles. Most often, these will be unpaid opportunities. Do be aware that the site’s reputation will color your own, so choose carefully.
- Write a book
A long time ago, a speaker encouraged people to write non-fiction books in their areas of expertise by simply saying, “Author. Authority!“ True. Of course, writing a book is not easy or more of us would do it. Publish a “real” book or a Kindle ebook sold through Amazon, and you qualify to have an Amazon Author Page.
These are not, unfortunately, set-it-and-forget-it activities with the possible exception of the book (after it is published). Each will require at least weekly, if not daily, attention. So, choose the ones that are the most comfortable for you, preferably LinkedIn plus at least one additional element.
If you have a reputation recovery/management issue, choose several items from the list above to dominate the first two or three pages of search results on your name – or push any bad stuff to the third or fourth page of search results. One of the things Google values is “freshness” so keep adding new information to retain good position in search results.
Annoymity Is Over
We didn’t realize how good we had it in the past – and by “past” I’m talking 5 (and more) years ago. For the most part, we lived lives of anonymity. No one, outside of our families, friends, and those we worked for and with paid much attention to us. And, the reality is, we had MANY fewer ways to embarrass ourselves publicly.