Recently I heard a startling claim: 45% of employers use search engines and social-networking sites to research job candidates. I was startled because the number was so low. I would have expected it to be closer to 90%.
As I’ve mentioned in Rule 14, your web presence can enhance or detract from your image. Successful people use the web to enhance their brand and image. The first step is to see what’s already out there about you on the web. Review at least the first five pages of results from search engines including Google, Yahoo and MSN. Clean up your web image. Remove anything on MySpace or Facebook you wouldn’t want your mother – or an employer or customer — to see.
If you think that people don’t Google you, think again. People do use search engines to learn about you before they meet you. Here’s just one example. Before she retired, Sylvia Montero was the Executive VP of HR for Pfizer Inc. She is a friend of mine. I have mentioned her in my blog posts. She once told me that a woman who was booking her to speak at a conference said that she Googled her, and that my blog posts were among the first things to come up.
With ever smaller cameras and recording devices, this situation has taken a different turn. Now you have to pay attention to what others post about you on line. I read an op ed piece by a Harvard student who said that these days you have to be careful what you do at parties. He said that students worry about whether their friends post pictures of them taken at parties. Apparently it’s not uncommon for students with cellphone cameras to take photos of their friends who are making out or drinking from a keg, and shout “blackmail photo.” Our public and private lives are becoming less distinct. A lot of what can get posted on the web about you is not in your control, so pay attention.
This doesn’t mean you should have no fun, but it does mean you need to pay close attention to your behavior at all times. In some ways that’s too bad. I know that I wouldn’t want to have many of my college, or young adult, exploits posted on the web. Good thing for me that we didn’t have cell phone cameras and web cams in those days.
While technology can hinder your attempts to present yourself positively and professionally, it also can help. Many people have a variety of on line accounts. I’m an old guy and I have accounts at LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Plaxo, Yahoo 360, Success Television, Jason’s Network and Duct Tape Marketing Workbench. I write a blog. I Twitter.
Being in so many places on line, I find that I have difficulty managing my online presence. Recently, I discovered www.extendr.com, a very cool site that can help you with this. Extendr.com offers and easy way to put your links in one place. You can check out my extendr.com page at http://bb.extendr.com.
Visual CV is another great way to enhance your web presence. Visual CV is an easy to use on line resume template. I use it. You can see my Visual CV here. I suggest creating both a personal web page and a Visual CV. In that way, you’ll be more likely to be found when a prospective employer or partner Googles you.
You not only need to dress for success, you need to have a simple, easy to find, clean web presence. Pay attention to your on line presence as much as you do your personal appearance.