What’s the deal with your digital dirt? When was the last time you Googled yourself? Some of my clients never have. They’ve just never thought there would be anything out there. But, I’ve Googled them, and they were surprised at what I found. So has every employer they’ve been trying to interview with. Yup. This could be making or breaking the hiring deal for you! Burying your digital dirt can help prevent that from happening in the future.
Employers want to be sure their candidates don’t come with any baggage – legal, moral, financial, or otherwise. But, it’s not just about there being a lack of something bad about them online. Employers want to see something noteworthy. It’s important to have a powerful, positive presence.
What do others value in you? What strengths, talents, and accomplishments can you showcase? That’s your personal brand. Smart job seekers understand this and want to control their digital identities. They use Google to their advantage in branding themselves.
This can take some effort if you’ve got anything damaging out there: criminal history, negative social media posts, a disreputable past. That’s digital dirt, and if that’s what is out there when you Google yourself, you need to work on your brand.
Other things can be problematic for your online identity. If you’ve got a common name, like Kristin Johnson (there are a lot us!), you might be mistaken for someone else. Digital dirt might be real indiscretions from your past, or they may be someone else’s. What employers see when they Google your name might not even be you!
An employer might not take the time to figure that out, though, so you have to be proactive. Your goal is to have positive, intelligent content about you rank high in Google’s algorithm. This information will then take over the bad info on the first page of a Google search about you. The negative links will be pushed down onto subsequent Google pages where an employer will be less likely to look.
Plus, your talent and contributions to the world will help offset any negative data that might be out there.
Here are the basics on removing digital dirt and building your brand up:
1. Sign up for LinkedIn (Google loves LinkedIn!) and other social media accounts with your full name that an employer will see on your resume. Post, tweet, and update to keep things current. This feeds the Google machine, too.
2. Buy your full name .com, .net, .me, and so on. Use this URL to set up a website, posting your bio, resume, video, and son on. There are lots of free WordPress templates to help you with this.
3. Use this WordPress website to blog, showing your communication skills and knowledge of your field.
4. Link your social media sites to your blog. Link your blog to your social media sites. Encourage your contacts to find you. The more interaction you get, the more Google will like you.
5. Comment intelligently on articles posted on prominent, established websites with good Google ranking like Huffington Post, New York Times, or NPR. Use your full name so that Google picks it up.
6. List yourself, using your full name, in online directories like lookuppage, workface, or bigsight. Use these to direct traffic to your website, blog, or social media sites.
7. Use frequent press releases, especially if you are a freelancer or business owner. When you launch your website, social media sites, give presentations, attend conferences, complete certifications, do anything… let the world know!
8. Sign up for BrandYourself.com to boost these online interactions and further promote who you are online.
This is just the beginning. There are lots of other ways to bury digital dirt and brand yourself online. What other ideas do you have? I’d love for you to share them here.
Oh, if you need help, ask your friendly career coach. She’ll be able to help.
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