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Have a Web Identity When Job Hunting

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[ Technology]

Computer World takes a look at how a lack of a web presence can hurt a candidate’s chance of getting a job interview, let alone the actual job. While we’ve probably all tried “Googling” a date or famous celebrity, employers are using the search engines to “check you out” before they schedule a meeting with you.

In a 2006 survey by executive search firm ExecuNet in Norwalk, Conn., 77 of 100 recruiters said they use search engines to check out job candidates. In a CareerBuilder.com survey of 1,150 hiring managers last year, one in four said they use Internet search engines to research potential employees. One in 10 said they also use social networking sites to screen candidates.

While it may be mostly confined to technology careers, not having an online identity can place a question (or black) mark against a potential job candidate.

In today’s job market, turning up missing on the Web may not be a fatal flaw, and it’s probably better than having a search result in a photo of you in a hula skirt. But over time, the lack of a Web presence — particularly for IT professionals — may well turn from a neutral to a negative, says Tim Bray, director of Web technologies at Sun Microsystems Inc.

The article goes on to suggest ways to create an online identity. Here are some of my own tips…

  1. Buy your domain name. Even if you don’t do a lot with it, you should own a domain name that matches (as close as possible) your name. Your online brand is important, and guess what, despite how many employers you may ultimately have, you’ll likely keep that same name for life!
  2. Understand your Google profile. Most potential employers are going to use Google, so you may as well focus on the search results there. What’s being said about you, what pages are indexed? Don’t just look at stuff that is about you, look at listings that are about someone with the same name, yet maybe negative. You should be prepared to explain that the person convicted for 3 counts of armed robbery, is not actually you.
  3. Own your brand. When someone searches for your name, you should try and make sure you have as much control over what they see, as possible. Set up a Flickr account, LinkedIn profile, blog, user-group profile, etc. While you may need the talents of a search marketer to ensure these pages appear in the top 10 of a search engine, you don’t stand any chance if you don’t actually take the time to create the profile in the first place.
  4. Destroy the evidence. Ok, so while most stuff you put online is there for eternity, that doesn’t mean you can’t try some damage control. That blog post you uploaded – the one where you went on an all night drinking binge and broke into the local Krispy Kreme – remove it! While it may still exist somewhere on the web, it is less likely to show up in the Google search results, if you’ve removed it from your own blog/social network.

For more advice on monitoring and managing what is said about you, check out our beginners guide to online reputation monitoring and management, it’s FREE!

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