Do you ever wonder what information exists about you on the Internet? Try Googling yourself to find out.
And remember, anyone else can do the same, including potential employers. What results will they see? Is there any information that you wouldn’t want to share with a future or current employer? If this information is damaging to your personal brand, it’s what we call ‘digital dirt’.
Digital dirt might be indiscretions from your past, or even from someone else’s. If you have a common name, you could be mistaken for someone else online. Busy employers don’t always take the time to figure out who’s who, so taking a proactive approach in establishing a positive, reputable and brand-strengthening presence online will help you avoid misrepresentation.
Keep in mind that the purpose of removing digital dirt is not just to clean up unsavory results, it’s also to control your digital identity. Smart job seekers use Google to their advantage in branding themselves.
Establishing a Personal Brand
Ask yourself: what do others value in me, and what strengths, talents and accomplishments can I showcase? This is what we refer to as your personal brand. The goal is to establish brand-appropriate, positive information about you that ranks high in Google’s algorithm. Employers want to see something noteworthy, but they tend to focus only on the first three pages of a Google search.
Below you will find our Top 5 Tips for Removing or Burying Digital Dirt and at the same time you’ll learn to strengthen your brand:
- Create an account on LinkedIn (Google loves LinkedIn!) and other social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) with your full name that an employer will see on your resume. Post, tweet and update to keep things current and professional. This feeds the Google machine, too. For example, customize your LinkedIn public profile to use your full name. Facebook also offers instructions for URL customization.
- Consider purchasing or owning your own domain; preferably using your full name. Sites like Godaddy.com or Hover.com allow you to research domain name availability and find out how much a domain will cost per year. (It may be less expensive than you think. For example, I recently purchased my own domain and it only cost $15 per year.) Once you have purchased your domain consider using it to set up a Web site, blog site or portfolio site. There are several free templates to help you with this on WordPress.com.
- Once you have developed the site you want, use it to showcase your skills, knowledge and experience in your field or area of expertise. In addition, we recommend linking your social media accounts to this site and vice versa. Encourage contacts within your network to connect with you online. The more interactions you have, the more Google will like you—meaning Google’s search results will favor your new online brand, which lessens the impact of past digital dirt).
- Comment intelligently and professionally on articles posted on prominent, established Web sites with good Google rankings (e.g. Huffington Post, New York Times, NPR, etc.). Use your full name so that Google picks it up. Furthermore, list yourself, using your full name, in online directories like LookupPage, Workface or Bigsight. Use these to direct traffic to your Web site, blog or social media accounts. Sign up for BrandYourself.com to boost these interactions and further promote who you are online.
- Finally, when you decide to make your site public, join various social media sites, give presentations, attend professional conferences, complete additional education, training or certifications or pretty much do anything you can to strengthen your professional portfolio. Don’t be shy, let the world find you!
~Post by Darren Kaltved