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You value your privacy and are not one to jump on the social media bandwagon, so when someone Googles your name, they’ll find a White page’s listing and a link to Ancestry.com. You’re okay with that, but what does it mean for your job search? Is it true that if someone can’t find you among the 955 million monthly active users on Facebook that they should worry there might be something wrong with you?

In our connected culture, hiring managers expect to be able to find data about you when they Google your name – and they will Google your name. Research shows 40 percent of everyone you meet will try to check you out online. If hiring managers can’t find any relevant information about you, they will wonder why. If you’re in the running for the job, they’ll probably try to dive deeper.

Do you know what free “deep web” search engines, such as pipl.com or polymeta.com, which store and serve up details a typical Google search does not deliver, say about you? It might not be what you want recruiters to find; you are better off helping recruiters learn what they want to know. When you maintain profiles on the social web and/or create a professional website – a social resume (“yourname.com”), you make sure anyone who may want to hire you will find exactly what you want them to know about you.

Don’t underestimate how important it is to have an online presence online—a digital footprint – to help convince potential hiring managers you are right for the job. If you’re wearing a virtual invisibility cloak and protecting your privacy to such an extreme that they can’t find anything about you, your “digital shadow,” the information someone else may post about you online, will become your calling card.

Why should you care about that “digital shadow?” Because when you provide no online content, you essentially hand over the keys to your online presence to anyone who may decide to post something about you. Giving control to someone else can be dangerous; when you don’t create content about yourself, anyone with a little online savvy can hijack your name. “Sue” reported Googling herself for the first time and finding that an ex-boyfriend had posted unflattering information about her that potential employers found. She hadn’t already posted anything about herself, so the negative details were prominent results.

There is no question having an online reputation can make a big difference for job-search success. Jobvite’s 2012 Social Recruiting Survey found 92 percent of hiring managers use or plan to use social networks. What networks do they use? 93 percent focus on LinkedIn, 66 percent use Facebook, and 54 percent recruit via Twitter. When you disconnect digitally, you miss all of these potential opportunities.

What’s the least you should do online if you are serious about your job hunt? Consider a LinkedIn profile a requirement. LinkedIn profiles tend to rank well in search engines, so having a completed profile should make your viewable via Google.

It’s okay to protect your Facebook updates with privacy settings, but allow your Work and Education, About You, and Contact Information sections to be public. That way, people will find out that you have a profile, even if they are not able to see your personal information. Another option? Fully fill out your Google+ profile, which you own if you use any Google product, such as Gmail. Since it’s Google’s product, Google+ profiles rank well in search.

When you create online profiles, you decide what information to share and avoid causing someone to wonder what is wrong with you when Google doesn’t seem to know you exist. You’re not convinced? You don’t really want to be found? It’s certainly your prerogative to try to be invisible online. However, when it comes to your professional opportunities, having no online profile is suspicious at best and suspect at worst. It’s up to you.

Related Links:

How social media can help you change careers

Is social networking important for job seekers?

New requirements for a complete LinkedIn profile

photo by auntiep

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