User-generated Internet content is right now influencing your career and job search success. Content about you, – posted by you and others – is easily accessible by anyone who knows how to use Google. Do you know what that content is? Where it is? What impression it conveys? If you are not managing it, no one is.
And if there is nothing about you posted, then that’s like not having a telephone, email address or street number. You don’t exist.
For a decade or more, a central focus of career management has been managing your reputation – or managing your personal brand — since how you are seen inside and outside of your current employer is a central factor in where your career goes next.
In the 20th century, this kind of personal brand management was mostly about what you did and said at work every day and what was on your resume when you were job hunting. While that continues to be important, things are different in the 21st century. Now, it’s also all about online identity management on the Internet.
Executive recruiters, potential employers, past colleagues and potential networking contacts can and do check you out on the Internet. Is the information they find consistent with the brand image you want to project? Will it help you make the next career step that you want to make? Or will it create problems and silently undermine your reputation?
You should start by Googling yourself of course, but you might also try Wink, Spoke and ZoomInfo. Those three are specifically built for gathering information about people. What do you find?
I hope your LinkedIn profile was on the first page. LinkedIn is always the first — and usually the easiest — place to establish a strong Internet identity.
If you’ve been on Facebook for years, you – and others – may find text and photos that could be damaging to your career. Anyone researching you may also make judgments about you based on who you associate with online, your “Friends.” You can control some of this by proper use of privacy controls, but maybe some of that material should be removed. For active Internet users, playing defense is a good place to get started with Internet career management.
What if your name is John Smith and ZoomInfo comes up with 500 of them, each indistinguishable from the others? And what if one of them who also lives in your town or works where you do has a lousy reputation? That’s also a brand management problem, isn’t it?
You can differentiate by routinely using a middle initial. But you may also need to work harder than Ignatius Smith at getting your message out with enough identifiers routinely attached to your name.
Whoever you are, you should pay careful attention to your Internet presence while job hunting. All of your postings should reflect well on you. All should support your candidacy for the kind of jobs you’re seeking.
And while you’re job hunting, please always re-read, edit, proofread and think before hitting the “submit” button on everything you post on the Internet.