You’ve polished your resume, have the perfect interview outfit and have even been practicing answering interview questions with a friend. Now what? Don’t forget about your online presence. A lot of employers are heading to Facebook, your blog and anywhere else they can find you online to see what kind of person you really are. As someone who has a relatively active online presence, I know how important Googling yourself can be.
Previously considered the ultimate in narcissism, Googling yourself and assessing your online presence is a must when you’re on a job hunt. Does that angsty teen poem you wrote a decade ago still show up on the first page of Bing results? It’s time to look at yourself from your (hopefully) future employer’s perspective. I once Googled myself and found the same bio complete with a typo plastered all over the first page of search results.
Finding the Job
If you’re still in college, on-campus recruiting provides a foot in the door. When I was an undergrad, I scored a well-paying (for a student) job via a law professor who also ran an international NGO. The grant proposals and RFPs I crafted with him paved the way for a lucrative grant-writing career. I got the job partly by being in the right place at the right time, and partly because I knew how to approach him in the seconds we had together stuck in an elevator.
College students also have the benefits of an entire career center just for them. Work-study positions, internships (paid and unpaid) and a team dedicated to finding the perfect job for college students aren’t available post-graduation. However, college students also tend to put all of their debauchery on social media then fail to keep up with privacy settings.
Creating a Flawless Online Image
Unless you’re after a career as a social media manager, there’s no reason to have an accessible social media presence. Make sure you only opt for the strictest privacy settings, and consider making a public “professional” site you’d be happy for employers to see. For the icing on the cake, have a new professional headshot taken each year. Daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial let you get a professional online image for a steal.
Also keep in mind that people may look for a few different search terms. A common name like John Smith probably means that other John Smiths around the country will pop up. Include different spellings of your name, such as Jonathan Smith, as well as your city or state. You never know just how committed recruiters will be to uncovering some dirt on you.
Offer Up the Goods
In your cover letter or resume, you may want to include social media sites such as LinkedIn or even Facebook to encourage employers to look at your online presence. This might prevent them from Googling things themselves, and you’re in complete control of what they’ll find. If you’re not sure how to build a solid online reputation, SEO companies can help.
No one is born knowing how to hunt for jobs. I know first-hand taking the advice of a pro, especially when you’re a student, can set the stage for successful career advancement. Why make fresh mistakes when you can learn from others? The more information you have from skilled experts, the better off you’ll be.