Let’s face it: social media and the internet have taken over our lives! Perceptions and desires that once were driven by “traditional” media such as television and print are now controlled by the almighty mobile device. Many have tried to resist the impact of social media on our daily lives, scoffing at the “poor etiquette” or “lack of real conversation” that technology has created. Love it or hate it, this new way of obtaining information is here to stay. So, will you allow social and online media to enhance or inhibit your online brand?
According to the August 2014 Social Recruiting Survey conducted by Jobvite, 93% of recruiters will look at a candidate’s online profile before making a hiring decision. With that in mind, can you afford to not take ownership of your online persona?
You can make major headway in cleaning up your online brand in just seven days. Here’s how:
Day One: First things first: You need to get an idea of where your brand is at. Google yourself. Click through at least the first two pages of search results and open every link. Would you hire you? Audit your search results for items you would rather not have people see, and make a list of things you do want them to know. The following steps will help address some of the items you uncover.
Day Two: Time to update your profile and cover photos. If you are currently in career transition or open to new opportunities, this includes not only your LinkedIn photo but also your Facebook, Twitter, and other profile pics. Your LinkedIn photo should feature you in business casual or better dress (depending on your industry) with no other people, pets, or props. While recruiters expect that your Facebook or Twitter photos will be a bit more casual, definitely swap that selfie you took last Saturday night with a nice shot from your sister’s wedding or your vacation to Europe.
Day Three: Tighten up your privacy settings, in particular for Facebook, Twitter, and other channels that are typically more personal than professional in nature. Make sure only friends can see your photos, or photos that you are tagged in. Better yet, set your Facebook settings so that you have to approve all tags. Consider relaxing your contact settings a bit, or displaying your personal email address on your profile so that recruiters or potential business connections are able to contact you.
Day Four: Check yourself, before you wreck your brand! Review your social profiles for typos, grammatical errors, and especially accuracy. According to Jobvite, 31% of social media job seekers have inflated their skills. This tactic puts you in the danger zone. I have heard of candidates losing out on job offers because of LinkedIn profiles not jibing with resume info.
Day Five: Up until this point, you have been in damage control mode. Now, it’s time to start enhancing your online image. Update your social profiles with every single award, accolade, educational achievement, and certification you have. Add relevant projects and presentations to your LinkedIn profile so that others can see your great work.
Day Six*: Emerge as a subject matter expert in your field. A great way to do this is to start a blog. With dozens of free blogging platforms such as Wordpress or Blogger at your disposal, you can easily share your experiences with the online universe. Blogs are also a great way to take control of how you appear in search engine rankings, potentially pushing negative content down in search results. Nervous about your writing skills? You can help educate your network by actively sharing relevant news articles with your networks via status updates or within groups.
Day Seven*: Ask others to vouch for you. Review sites like Yelp have become increasingly popular because most of us naturally trust neutral third party endorsements. Ask at least one colleague and manager for each role you have held if they would mind writing a quick review of your work on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to return the favor by offering an endorsement in return.
Whether currently in transition or just dusting off your professional image, recognize that millions of people have access to your online brand. That is both a scary and exciting concept! Taking ownership of your online brand will help to remove the fear factor and ensure you are perceived in the virtual world as the respected, knowledgeable professional that you are.
* Before starting a blog, sharing/liking articles, or requesting endorsements from colleagues, consider your current employer's policies and any regulatory restrictions that may be imposed on your industry.
About the Author: Shannon Grimes is a Phoenix-based talent attraction manager for Schwab, and her work focuses on connecting with job seekers at networking events, information sessions and career fairs.