Q. It has been years since I looked for a job. Now I’m told I need to have a “brand”, a “web presence”, and make sure people know I’m current. I’m current in my field, just not everything else! So where do I start?
A.Looking for a job has changed dramatically. Technology and social networks have had a big impact on how effective a job seeker can be, and how knowledgeable they must be to be considered a viable candidate. Hiring managers can also be very resourceful and find out a great deal about you with only your name and the internet at hand. Career Builder cites 22% of hiring managers use social networks for background checks.
Who you are on the web reflects your “web presence””. You can choose to ignore that information and let people find whatever is out there, or you can be an active contributor and ensure there is information that reflects you in the most positive way. You might choose to start by completing the “vanity Google”. Check your own name on Google, Linkedin, and Facebook. If there is any less than professional information on any of these, I encourage you to check other sites, including Plaxo, and Zoom info just to make sure you are starting out with a clean reputation.
Scott Monty, Head of Social Media at Ford, says “What happens in Vegas stays in Google” to illustrate this issue.
If you aren’t on LinkedIn, you need to be. Develop an effective profile – LinkedIn makes it easy, and there are many resources available to help you decide what to include and what should not be included in your professional presence. Use a picture that is a professional image of you. I’m sure you have funny pictures, or pictures that are cute, but you need to choose a shot that makes you look like the successful professional you are or are aspiring to be.
You will see that you can develop a more comprehensive LinkedIn profile by joining groups, increasing the number of your connections, and by gathering recommendations. All of this helps people learn more about the professional you. Your presence can help reflect you as current, and knowledgeable. Your recommendations can show that others respect your expertise.
To add to that expertise, and continue to build your web presence, and brand, you should consider contributing to the on-line community that shares your professional interests. You don’t need to be a technology wizard to find blogs that relate to your industry or functional area of expertise. Look for the professional associations that matter to you, and see who the thought leaders are. Most likely they have blogs. You can begin slowly by reading the comments, seeing how it is done and the reactions that are generated. You next step is to contribute to these by adding your own professional insights.
These few steps will help you have a web presence in the most positive way, and enhance your career opportunities. For more specific information, pick up Me 2.0 – Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success by Dan Schawbel; Kaplan Publishing