It’s a fact – 92% of employers use information they find about you online to decide whether or not to interview you. What will they find? And how do you fix it?
Are there pictures of you floating around you thought were long gone? Will they mix you up with someone else? Have you posted information about yourself in open chat rooms and forums that is less than flattering?
It’s doubtful everything you want hidden is posted on the Internet somewhere, but you really owe it to yourself to take a look at what they will find if they search your name because there are things you can do about your online reputation. And when it comes your career – your livelihood – you’ve invested too much to leave it to Google to introduce you to potential employers.
So here are some steps you can take to protect your online reputation.
1. Google Your Name
This is a good first step to make sure what comes up is what you think. Try a few different searches because chances are good there’s another person with your name. So try the following (with your name):
- “Karen Jones”
- “Karen Jones dental hygienist”
- “Karen Jones Illinois” or “Karen Jones Chicago dental hygienist”
I would suggest you look several search pages deep because search results can fluctuate over time – something about you may pop up on page 2 one day but then page 1 a month later. Going deep will help ensure you have a good handle on it.
You should also perform this same exercise using Yahoo and Bing. They aren’t used as much as Google, but they do produce different results. Also search in the Images section of these search engines to see what pictures popup.
What if you find something you don’t want shown? Clean it up. Contact the site administrators of that information and ask that the information be removed. Often times it can be something you posted a while back through an account or profile you set up, so you can take it down yourself.
There are also a number of reputation management companies who, for a fee, will work with you to clean up and remove problem search results. Here are a few to consider:
2. Complete a LinkedIn Profile
You might be wondering how creating more online information about yourself is going to help protect you. By creating a LinkedIn profile account you are actually helping an employer find information about you that YOU control. Moreover, it’s often one of the first results that show up when someone searches your name. And, because it’s a career-oriented social media, it has the added benefit of reinforcing and even enhancing what’s on your resume.
Here’s how it actually improves on what you give them on your resume:
- It shows employers you are current with the times (most serious job seekers have a LinkedIn profile page).
- It shows employers you are tech-savy (it’s one thing to say you are current with technology, quite another to actually demonstrate it).
- LinkedIn profiles give you additional space to highlight additional career-related activities you are involved with.
- LinkedIn profiles have a built-in mechanism whereby others you are connected with can endorse your skills and provide written testimonials about you.
3. Get and Post Professional Pictures
It takes time and even some money, but hiring a professional photographer to take some pictures of you for LinkedIn, or your resume and postcards, or even for your other social media accounts makes a powerful first impression – a more visual connection with your brand.
And it gives you a little more control of the pictures they do find of you online. Remember they are looking for you online and they will, a good majority of the time, find a picture of you somewhere. It may not be what you want them to find, or it may not even be you (but they think it’s you). Why not give them what they are looking for in a way in which YOU can control it?
I would even recommend you take it a step further and have some nice pictures of you taken in a dental setting or at least with your lab coat on – possibly even some action shots of you working. These are great because they help potential employers more easily envision you as a dental professional. Use these pictures on your social pages, paper resume, video resume, resume website, postcards, business cards – everywhere – and you will leave no doubt as to who you are and no reason for an employer to keep digging.
4. Lock Down Your Online Privacy Settings
There’s never a guarantee your privacy will stay intact. Always remember, what happens online stays online.
Facebook, in particular, is notorious for changing and tweaking privacy settings and though they do announce them sometimes we don’t notice the memo.
Your privacy settings on all social medias may not be what you originally had them set at, or maybe you’ve changed your mind since creating them up. But if you are about to embark on a job search make sure they are set the way you want them and monitor them from time to time.
5. Pro-Actively Share
Since we already know potential employers are going to do some searching, consider giving it to them upfront. In your cover letter and resume (and other job hunting materials), include the addresses to your main profile pages (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). I think most employers are satisfied if you’ve given them something about you other than just your paper resume.
They are running a business and want to be careful about who they hire. If they feel you are a mystery or possibly hiding something, that can be a strike against you. Better to give them something – doesn’t have to be everything – but just something so that trust can flow. I would add, parenthetically, that you owe it to yourself to check them out also. There are employers everywhere who have some skeletons in the closet and if a hygienist did a simple search they would find them. Whether you choose to work for them or not is up to you, but you should at least be aware.
Wrapping it up
Your career is serious business and you need to take this issue of reputation management head on. Find out what’s out there, take action on stuff you don’t want employers to see, and then become proactive in sharing what you do want them to see about you and you will improve your chances of landing a great dental hygiene job.