Is your executive job search stalled?
You may believe a carefully prepared leadership resume, elevator pitch, and LinkedIn Profile are all you need – but have you taken a second look at your online activity?
Today, companies can find out so much about you with a simple Google search – and read your Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social media profiles in mere minutes.
If you’re NOT getting calls for interviews, your online brand could be the problem.
Take these steps to uncover and tune your online identity:
1 – Research yourself PAST the first page of Google.
You’ll find the most-read information about yourself on the first 1 to 3 pages of search results. No matter how good this data looks, however, it pays to research your online identity more deeply, all the way to the last page.
Check out as many instances of your name as you can find – and keep in mind that this includes others with your name. If you can find data that looks like it’s associated with you – so can employers.
Make the assumption than any social media accounts can and WILL be read by interviewers. This is especially important for leaders seeking a C-suite officer role in a public corporation, as these employers assume significant liability in hiring you and will therefore vet you thoroughly.
2 – Decide if action is warranted.
If anything you’ve found looks like it might arouse concerns, dig into it further. Next, decide if the information can be easily removed (such as a series of articles you’ve posted or comments you’ve made).
You may believe (mistakenly) that data can easily be removed off social media. Think again.
Many Tweets posted on Twitter, for example, are catalogued in the Library of Congress. In some instances, your carefully deleted Facebook posts can still show up.
Still, you’re best off deactivating or trimming these social media accounts, especially if they reference volatile political opinions or other polarizing conversations. Employers CAN read plenty into your online activities!
If you’re involved in any type of legal activity or you’ve been featured in the news, you may need deep pockets to remove this information. Some online news articles and posts are best handled with an attorney experienced in defamation cases. You can also ask individual website owners to remove negative information.
No matter what the situation, getting rid of online information is a chore – particularly since it’s most likely indexed by Google and therefore takes a while to fade from search results, even if it’s deleted.
3 – Continually monitor your online identity.
If you haven’t already done so, setting up Google Alerts can be a great way to find information when it is first posted. To do so, visit the Google Alerts page and provide details of the phrase you are monitoring (such as your full name or versions of it).
You’ll also find some data can slip through the cracks – even though Google Alerts can be a helpful tool in your executive job search.
Regularly search for yourself using an Incognito Window (a Google Chrome feature), which will show you what others see when running a query on your name.
And if others share your name, be sure to pay attention to THEIR online identity. You may need to distinguish yourself from others and possibly explain this to recruiters.
4 – Add information that you WANT employers to see.
Plenty of venues exist for you to publish online content about yourself. This is particularly important if you share a name with someone else or you’re wanting to distinguish yourself in a competitive field.
Blog posts, LinkedIn article publishing, industry white papers, professional association news, guest posts, and personal websites can all help promote your expertise. You can also join industry associations, volunteer for Board positions, and otherwise continue to shape your leadership reputation.
The key to creating positive information is to continue doing it, rather than publishing one or two posts before quitting. This will help “push down” potentially damaging information so that it’s not among the top search items related to your name.
In summary, maintaining a positive online brand isn’t the only step to a new executive career – but it can certainly make a difference in your results.
To avoid surprises, keep an eye on your digital presence!