Research Yourself

eUnknown-1It is nearly impossible to avoid an Internet footprint for yourself. Search your name and see what pops up. Is what you see how you want to be judged? If you have a common name, you might think you can hide behind myriad other namesakes. Don’t be fooled. All someone has to do is add one phrase to get the real you. For example, add your school to your name and it’s almost a certainty that you will pop up on the first search page, if not the first item.

Why is it important? More than 90 percent of employers will check out your online presence, according to research from Career and Professional Development at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. And if they can’t find you, more than a third of employers say they are less likely to interview you.

Instead, build up your online presence so employers can see who you are and what skills and talents you have. Employers want to hire you because you are a fit for the job and the company. Your resume might tell them your skills; your online presence can show a deeper look at you.

To build your online presence:

  1. Search your name. Clean up what you find. Are the photos the ones you want an employer to see? If you’re looking for a job, now is the time to clean out the photo albums: Lose the red solo cup shots, the slightly inappropriate Halloween costume pose, anything distasteful and pretty much anything you don’t want Grandma to see.
  2. Create and perfect a LinkedIn Profile. This may be the number one way an employer will first get a sense of your professional skills.
    1. Your photo, headline and summary are the three top areas people check first. Your photo should look like you would fit as an employee in the industries you’re interested in. Make it professional.
    2. The headline, which is listed below your name, is the first item an employer will read so make it about who you are and what you want to be.
    3. The summary should be along the lines of your elevator pitch. Tell employers what you offer and what you’re looking for.
    4. Join online groups such as those offered on LinkedIn; start to build a professional network.  Begin to be an active participant. You can start with a “like” of an article you read, work up to sharing the article and then graduate to publishing an article of your own.
    5. Consider having a public Twitter account where you can create content that is reflective of your interests. You can still be personal, but you can start to build a more thoughtful presence.
    6. Create a personal blog where you can showcase your projects and work.

The more avenues you create on Social Media and online, the more employers will find when they inevitably search your name. By building up your Internet footprint, you give yourself a head start in the job search. You are more likely to get an interview if your potential employers are impressed with what they see.

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