Defensive Googling

How to Strengthen Your Online Presence and Boost Your Career

Google LogoThe days of being anonymous workers are over. The fact is that our online presence can mean as much, if not more, than our reputation in real life. For recruiters especially, Google is now a powerful hiring tool, and what a Google search turns up about you might mean more than your actual paper resume. Having a strong, positive online presence isn’t only important to job hunters. Whether you’ve been conscientious about it or not, anyone can (and probably is) Googling your name before considering you for a potential promotion or for something as casual as a general overview of your professional persona. If this is the first time you’ve considered what a Google search discovers about you, it’s not too late to take control and begin your very own personal marketing campaign. Now is the perfect time to start.

The first step is to Google yourself to see what search results you get. If you’ve been featured in articles or if you’ve written something for your professional organization, these should pop up on the first page. Even if you’re not a leader in your industry, your professional associations should appear first. For example, LinkedIn, Google +, Visual CV, FB, Amazon, Pinterest, YouTube, etc should shine on your first page of search results. Consider this the first step to creating your personal brand, and you want all of those different profiles to contribute to the professional picture you wish to present to your colleagues, employers, and any potential companies you may work for in the future.

What happens if the search reveals nothing at all? That’s almost as bad as the search finding something unflattering. A zero search means two things to a potential employer: 1. You’re so out-of-date that you can’t manage online anything or 2. You’re hiding something. Neither of those things will get you hired or lend credibility to your professional experience regardless of what industry you work in. The great thing about the accounts listed above is that they’re free, and Google loves them. Plus, you get to write your own profile information. They can be great marketing tools for personal your brand. All you have to do is use them, and use them regularly.

If you’ve found something less-than-attractive in your Google search, don’t panic. Google likes “fresh” information which you can use to your advantage. Be present on your professional account 1-2 hours a week. Ensure that your interactions with others are high-quality and informed. Be active and be intentional. Eventually with enough online presence, that unattractive item in your professional past will be pushed back in the search results. The further back it moves in the pages, the less likely it will come to light in a typical search.

For some of us, cultivating a quality online brand seems like a monumental task. It’s especially challenging for those of us who are naturally reticent. However, we no longer have the luxury of anonymity, and sitting on the sidelines, laying low, will only hurt you professionally in the long run. The good news is that we can use Google to our advantage to help our careers and professional reputation, one profile at a time.