Writing and Speaking

A guide to revamping your online presence!

Career Rocketeer recently – professional resume services provider – wrote about the necessity of creating a positive internet presence.

Your digital imprint of your life is your internet footprint. It’s items like your LinkedIn profile or Visual CV that you purposefully developed with readers in mind. But it’s also the comments you made on a political blog two years ago. It’s the scathing Amazon review you made when you were in a foul mood. It’s from last year’s letter to the editor. It’s your own hobby website, which has nothing to do with your profession. In a nutshell, it’s anything you’ve ever done online under your real identity or a screen name that can be traced back to you (which might be any screen name if someone tries hard enough and knows what they’re doing).

As Career Rocketeer explicitly points out – online research is a common thing.

A recent poll of HR professionals and hiring managers showed that more than half will Google prospective candidates at some point during the hiring process. Furthermore, 46% of those, have said that they have eliminated candidates based on what they found!

What this means for job seekers?

Recruiters and employers are the folks you should be concerned about if you’re looking for work. Can it be long before hundreds of companies are formed solely for the purpose of doing online research? There would be nowhere to hide when firms outsource work to professionals in this manner.

So now is a good moment to assess what you’re doing online under various screen names and decide whether or not you want to continue. Feel strongly that your preferred political party is the good folks, while the other is the embodiment of evil? That’s OK, but do you really need the rest of the world to hear you say it on the internet? Is it possible to continue the discussion without your five cents? Because if that’s the case, you’d be better off holding your fire.

Angry enough with someone else to go on a public forum and post a long rant about them? Instead, consider sending a private message or email. Do you want to leave an Amazon review for a book? OK, but keep it non-controversial and double-check your spelling and punctuation!

But that’s down the road – what about now?

People looking up your name on Google aren’t likely to check up alternate screen names unless they have a lot of time on their hands right now. They’re more likely to look up your name on Google and see what comes up.

According to career coaches and professional resume services – that indicates you should do the same (along with using Yahoo and MSN — search engines get various results). What do the first three pages reveal?

I don’t like what I found. Now what?

Now comes the difficult part. The internet exists indefinitely. Even defunct websites can be found on The Wayback Machine and other comparable archives. However, according to professional resume services – there are steps you may do to reduce the impact of what you said or did on the internet. Here are a few ideas, but they are by no means comprehensive. If you know of any others, please let us know in the comments section.

  1. Check the site to see if you can change your screen name. If you can, your selected screen name will replace your real name as the search engine refreshes its results. It will take some time, depending on how frequently the search engines reindex the site.
  2. Write to the site’s owner and request that your comment be removed. This works on small sites only, and even then, many site owners will refuse to ‘rewrite history’ by erasing your comment. It’s worth a shot, though.
  3. Start replacing the results you don’t like with ones that reflect more positively on you. This is by far the most effective method.

Here are three things you can do right now to start replacing your negativity with positives:

  • Online Profiles

According to professional resume services – you need to use your genuine name and complete online profiles on all major social networking sites. Start with Myspace, LinkedIn, Facebook, ZoomInfo, Plaxo, Visual CV, and Naymz. If you use the same name and email address on these sites, the results will appear on sites like ppl.com, which aggregate social media profiles, helping to drive unfavourable content to the bottom of the rankings. You should also create a Google profile for us.

  • Soliciting testimonials

You can get testimonials from people on LinkedIn and Naymz, and they will display on your profile. Take use of this feature because it will help to reduce any disadvantages.

  • Comment or write on business blogs

Making informative and meaningful comments on blogs about your sector or field is another approach to drive negatives down in the search results. Some of these will appear in search engine results. Technorati is a site where you can find blogs.

Submit guest posts to blogs in your profession if you enjoy writing, but make sure to use your real name. For a variety of reasons, blog entries score well in search engines, and this is a sure-fire approach to establish yourself as an expert in your subject.

Deal with what you can’t fix

In some circumstances, there will be a huge fat negative just waiting to catch you out on the internet. You can’t hide it, you can’t relocate it, and you can’t persuade anyone to take it away. If this describes you, you must devise a strategy for dealing with it. Depending on how serious it is and how closely it relates to your work, you may need to bring it up in interviews ahead of time.

One of my clients managed a website for a well-known musician and, through no fault of his own, became the target of fan wrath when the artist made a decision that the fans didn’t agree with. He was the one who was debated (i.e., trashed) online because he was the site’s face. These talks were on the first page of Google for his name for a long time. So, in interviews, he addressed it head on, describing the circumstances and how he handled it. As far as we know, that technique has always worked.

In Summary

Most individuals thought they could separate their online lives in the early days of the internet. They had three different screen names: one for political blogs, one for talking about their favourite band, and one for professional activity. That’s no longer an option. All of these identities will one day be linked to you, so start now to create a digital footprint you can be proud of when people conduct online searches for you.

And to those who accuse me of encouraging people to be inauthentic, I’d like to ask you this: do you usually share your political views when you’re out and about meeting new people? Do you frequently engage in public shouting matches with other people? Do you tell your co-workers about “25 Things That Drive Me Nuts”? If the answer is no, you should think twice before doing it online.

Want to learn more about cleaning up your online footprint? Find the best career guidance and resume help from industry professionals and resume help experts right here!

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