It’s easy to focus a six-figure job search on creating a strong resume, networking statement, biography, or cover letter. But don’t forget that employers WILL look in one other place for information about you–the Internet.

These are some key reasons that employers are using online data as YOUR source of references (whether you want them to or not!):

1) Personal sites and data are growing by leaps and bounds. You only need think of the popularity of MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

Here’s a little-known fact: search engine optimization (SEO) principles dictate that a personal site will often pop up FIRST in a search for your name. The reason? These sites often use your name in the title, which makes it optimum search criteria.

2) Press releases can make their way onto the Internet with astonishing speed.

I’ll use a case study here to make my point perfectly clear: Roy, a former client, learned a valuable lesson when he embarked upon a job hunt and wondered why he wasn’t approached for leadership positions.

I did an online search for his name and discovered that some of his previous achievements were “spun” the wrong way inside press releases that focused on negative information. With a little help on his online profile-building activities, we were able to counteract the effects of this data, plus present his own version of events.

The lesson? You never know what someone else considers important about YOUR career.

3) Personal life or opinions have become fair game. Have you posted to a blog about your family? Your neighborhood? How about your JOB?

As with other hot information, blogs can rocket their way around the Web. Don’t forget about published articles, project lists, and any other sources in which you’ve been quoted.

As we know here in Colorado, a well-known CEO of a major corporation was caught flagrantly posting his opinions on a company merger to a public group on Yahoo last year. While the merger went through (barely), his reputation suffered significantly, and the press had a field day with it.

Can you imagine what a potential new employer would think? Enough said!

Again, remember that what you provide on your resume might NOT be the only data employers see… and that you should check your online identity often to avoid surprises.