Overhaul Your Online Brand

Google yourself regularly and edit your online brand to support your job-search efforts

We’re in the home stretch now, folks – two weeks to go till the end of the year! And for the first time since we began this Countdown to a New Year, New You, I’m not asking you to go out and get something new. This time, I want you to take a look at something you already have: your online brand.

Whether you know it or not, every one of you has an online brand. A Jobvite social recruiting survey found that 85 percent of HR professionals and recruiters said that a positive online presence has influenced a hiring decision. On the flip side, 70 percent have turned down a candidate based on something they found about them online. If you’re not managing your online brand, you could unknowingly hurt your chances of landing that dream job. Take these five steps to overhaul your online brand.

1. Have you Googled?
According to a recent survey by TheLadders, more than 35 percent of you only Google yourselves on an annual basis, and a whopping 16 percent have never Googled yourselves. If you fall within either of these categories, today’s the day we’re going to change that. Do me a favor and Google your name today and see what comes up on the first page of results. How many of the listings are about you and support your professional brand? Once you know what you have to work with, you can take steps to make these results better.

2. What’s in a name?
However you choose to represent your name, make it consistent across every professional online profile and resume. If your name is fairly common, like Sarah Johnson, consider including the middle initial to your branding and add the URL to your LinkedIn profile to your resume. If you plan keep any social media sites, like Facebook, for personal use, consider changing the name to something different - I recommend “First Name” “Middle Name” - and make sure you increase the security settings so that no one outside of your inner circle will see it. Un-tag yourself from any photos that you wouldn’t want your future boss seeing or better yet, take them down altogether.

3. Is your eReputation tarnished?
If your Google search unearths some unflattering results, you have a couple options. First, reach out to the website and try to get the article or page taken down. Second, “push down” negative results by getting your name mentioned on other web pages for the right reasons. Consider building additional professional profiles, starting a blog or Twitter feed related to your line of work, or becoming more involved with relevant professional organizations. As these fresher results get clicked on and shared, they’ll start to take the place of the older content.

Also, avoid clicking multiple times on the negative article or sending it around to your friends and family. The more clicks it gets, the higher it will rise in your search results. If there’s something about you online that’s really damaging, consider using a reputation management service like reputation.com or Reputation Changer. These services can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to much more, depending on your needs. Speak with an associate before making any purchases.

4. Where’s your resume?
If you’ve used job boards in the past, old versions of your resume are probably still floating around the web and sending mixed signals to recruiters. Make a list of every site you’ve used in the past for your job search, and close accounts that are no longer relevant to your search. Upload your new professional resume to the relevant sites and update any outdated information. Make sure all of your professional profiles (including those from your professional memberships and alumni associations), are in alignment with your new resume and highlight your relevant skills, education and experience.

5. What else should you know?
Be careful of what you put on the Internet – once it’s published, it’s there forever. Think twice before hitting the send button on every status update, tweet, and email. While you may not be able to remove all of the damaging content related to your brand, you now know what’s out there and can prepare responses for any questions that may come up during interviews.

Now that you know how to monitor and improve your online professional brand, be more proactive going forward. Put a reminder on your calendar each month to Google your name. If you’re in a role that receives media attention or you’re planning to write articles or blog posts, set up a Google News Alert for your name so you know when something new pops up online.

Next week, we’ll talk about getting you more comfortable with using a variety of social media channels to kick your job-search efforts up a notch. Click on the following link to catch up with the entire Countdown to a New Year, New You series.

Amanda Augustine is the Job Search Expert for TheLadders, the online job-matching service for career-driven professionals. She is a Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC) and Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) who provides job search and career guidance for professionals looking to make their next career move. Have a question for Amanda? Submit your question here for a chance to have it answered in her weekly column, and be sure to follow @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and "Like” her on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search advice.

Ready to take your career to the next level? Join our Take Charge of Your Career Community Challenge! You’ll get daily emails with expert tips and tools from TheLadders’ Amanda Augustine to give your career a boost in just 4 weeks. Sign up now!

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