Who ARE you online? What does your online persona reveal about you? Does it help or hurt your job search?
With hordes of applicants competing for the same positions, employers and recruiters have concentrated their efforts on "googling" or "zooming" candidates. These searches on Google.com and Zoominfo.com can reveal a multitude of applicant embarassments, faux pas or even downright objectionable behavior - all fodder for being immediately relegated to "fiile 13", the trash can.
Don't be surprised if you are googled by a potential employer during your professional or executive job search. According to a survey done by Execunet, an exclusive networking organization for high-earners, 3 out of 4 recruiters do Internet research on candidates and 1 in 4 has dropped candidates based on what they found.
Why would what you say "after hours", perhaps in your personal blog or that of your friends, be of interest? Well, it's hard enough for employers to wade through the tons of applications they receive online. If they can review a possible candidate with an eye to "overall quality" it helps to:
- reduce the numbers of people in the selection pool,
- increase the chance of hiring a highly credible professional or executive, AND
- potentially decrease the odds of bringing someone on-board with glaring liabilities.
As Todd Noebel, associate director of talent acquisition at Pfizer Global Research & Development says, "The constant struggle in recruiting is not about the quantity of applicants but, rather, the quality."
Google and Zoominfo trawl the web for whatever mentions of your name they can find...and guess what? It might not even be you, especially if you have a fairly common name!
There are other social networking sites like Ziggs.com, Linkedin.com and Yahoo360 that allow you to create your own profile - in essence allowing you to play "spin doctor" with whatever is in your background and put it in the most positive light. In fact, for a small fee, Ziggs can list you first, among all the people who have your same name, in a Google search (provided someone else hasn't grabbed that position already).
Whether you are a job seeker, an executive pursuing Board membership, an entrepreneur or small business owner concerned about your reputation, or an employer wondering what your potential hires are saying, "managing" your online identity is no longer optional.
With that in mind, I recently joined LinkedIn and Ziggs and then, with some trepidation, googled my name just to see what would rise to the surface. Amazingly, 48 out of the first 50 hits were, in fact, about me and hugely positive. This gave me reassurance that there was no "digital dirt" (even if about another Susan Guarneri) that could sully my name.
It also refreshed my memory about the various networking connections I'd made in the past that led to articles, interviews, professional gigs, and memberships. I've vowed to resurrect those connections within the next 2 months which, hopefully, will lead to MORE articles, interviews, etc. that positively "spin" my online persona.
For more information about "digital dirt" read Jared Flesher's informative article, "How to Clean Up Your Digital Dirt Before It Trashes Your Job Search". BTW, this article appears 5th in the google line-up for Mr. Flesher. The first entry asks, "Do you mean Jared Fleischer?" See what I mean?