Every celebrity understands that fame means living in a fishbowl. When you’re a famous actor, the world follows your every move and dissects each word you say.
In today’s job market, when you play the role of a job seeker, you’ve got a lot in common with A-list actors who can’t outrun the cameras of the press. In today’s social media saturated world, every move you make is under scrutiny, especially when you’re competing for a job or a new client.
Lucky for you, you can take some simple steps to make sure the story the Internet tells about you puts you in the best possible light. Here are some easy ways to make sure your online story is a success.
- Google yourself. The quickest way to see if you’ve got damage control to do is to type your own name into Google and see what comes up. Is the information accurate? Has the Internet confused you with someone else who has the same name? Interviewers and potential clients routinely Google applicants, so if the search results serve up potential problems you can correct them.
- Are you easy to find online and is it clear what you do? If the search results have found the correct “you”, is the data accurate and does it make it easy to understand your expertise? If you don’t show up at all, that’s a problem of another kind. Interviewers expect people today to have a digital footprint on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, web sites and other online spaces. Being completely absent may signal that you’re a technophobe—not good in today’s computerized business world.
- Are you easy to contact? Your online resume should have both an email address and a phone number where you can easily be reached. If you’re on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, make sure you watch for comments and direct messages that require an immediate reply. You don’t want to miss out on your starring role because no one could find you!
- Is your bio/resume current and does it include your professional headshot? Whether it’s your resume on Monster or your profile on LinkedIn, your career history needs to be clear, complete and up-to-date. Make sure you have a professional headshot associated with all your online sites.
- Do you have a website? If you are a solo professional or small business owner, you absolutely must have a website if you want to convey that you are serious about being in business. If you’re looking for a job, consider creating a personal web site with your resume and perhaps even a professionally produced introduction video that presents you in your absolute best light.
- Get social. If you’re in business or job-hunting, you need to have a professional presence on LinkedIn and or a Facebook business page. Recruiters will use those sites to check you out, and being absent may be read to mean your computer skills are lacking. Make sure your profiles are current and complete. On LinkedIn, encourage former colleagues to write recommendations for you. On Facebook, make sure no one is tagging you in photos that don’t bolster your professional persona.
- Look the part. If you’re a solo professional or small business owner competing for a new client or a big contract, does your web site reflect the current success of your business? If you’re still using a do-it-yourself template or a simple one-page site from when you first opened your doors, it’s time to upgrade.
- Share rave reviews. Do your online sites speak for you with testimonials, case studies, a portfolio of your work, and a clear statement of the benefits and values that differentiate you from competitors?
- Google your competition. Go visit the sites of the companies you’re bidding against (or, if you know you’re competing head-on with another person for a job, look for that individual). Be honest—how does your online presence compare to theirs? If you need to spruce up, do it now.
- Qualify your prospects. For job hunters, this means having a clear statement of the kind of work that interests you on your online resume and profiles. For entrepreneurs, this means making your values, approach, style and process so clear that you will attract the people who are a best fit.
- Avoid mistaken identity. If you have a common name or the name of your company is similar to that of another firm, make sure you make it easy for a prospect or an interviewer to find the real “you.” This is especially important if your Google search turns up unsavory information about someone else with the same name. You may want to head-off trouble by letting interviewers or prospects know that there are many people/companies online with similar names, so they should look for a certain identifier only you use—like an uncommon middle initial or something unique about your company name.
Now that you’ve done your role research, it’s time for your “casting call”!