If you are job searching or self-employed, chances are potential employers and clients research you online before making a decision about working with you.  You should have at least as much information about your online presence as they do.  In part one of this two part series, I touched on how to find the information a web search would yield about you (including any negative information or misinformation) and how you might avoid having a negative online presence.  Part two will focus on how to highlight positive information online.

The sources of online information which will portray your professionalism are generated, in part, by others.  Examples of such content include an article referencing or quoting you, which is written by a colleague or posted through a professional association you belong to, as well as published lists of association members or conference attendees containing your name.  Such information can serve you well by highlighting your professional memberships or expertise.  However, whether it is generated depends primarily on the person or organization selecting the content.  So, how do you increase the likelihood that a search of your name will produce information reinforcing the message that you are the right candidate for the job?

What you write and share on the web can help to support your position as a desirable candidate (vs. giving the potential employer a reason to eliminate you from consideration).  Choose what you write (and where you post it!) carefully and assume your potential employer will read it.  These tips apply whether or not there is content on the web about you that is less than favorable.  However, if search result do bring up anything negative that cannot be removed, it becomes particularly important to ensure links to professional, positive information show up in at least the first few pages of any search of your name.  This will require thinking carefully about how and where you post content online.  Select appropriate sites that have a high ranking on search engines.

LinkedIn is an excellent example of a site with a high search engine rank and professional content.  If you haven’t explored this site already or created a profile on LinkedIn, it’s a good idea to do so now.  How LinkedIn works, and why you should consider using it are the subjects of a separate article (several books have also been written about it, including Jason Alba’s excellent book I’m on LinkedIn — Now What???).  I am listing the site here to emphasize how important it is and to share that your LinkedIn profile would typically show up in the first page of a web search on your name (*choose your first and last name for your profile link and set your account so it will show up in search results).  Your LinkedIn profile is one more opportunity to share your professional identity with potential employers or clients.

Online communities and sites for organizations that are particularly relevant to your field of work, and blogs that fit your professional areas of interest and experience can also be effective places to post thoughtful comments and engage in dialogue that would be helpful to readers (as well as allowing you to share your expertise; be sure to use your full name since you’ll want this information to show up in searches).  If you have your own website or blog, you can use them to post content that clearly demonstrates your skills, expertise, and professional philosophy.  Again, be sure your full name is mentioned so these will show up in searches using your name.

Best wishes as you use these tips and techniques to help you manage your online presence well, allowing employers and clients to find abundant evidence of your professionalism and experience.

Shahrzad Arasteh, M.A., helps people create and pursue their career search plan using 10+ years of experience and a holistic approach to career counseling.  She is a Certified Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Practitioner, a Master Career Development Professional, a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, and a Certified Global Career Development Facilitator.  If you are ready to create your career search plan and find your meaningful work, visit http://www.careerconsultmd.com or contact her shahrzad[at]careerconsultmd.com


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