When was the last time you Googled yourself? Stop reading this blog for one minute, head over to Google, and type your name in the Search field. Do you appear on the first page? Perhaps with your LinkedIn profile or a recent blog post? If the answer is No, you have some work to do! Building and maintaining your digital profile is becoming more and more critical as prospective employers check you and your competition out, not to mention everything you post, purchase, and produce online is generally visible to anyone at any time.
There are three key sites that you will want to ensure you build out and manage in a way that helps to achieve (not hinder!) your personal and professional goals. These are LinkedIn, Google +, and Facebook. When you consider these three mega-sites, used throughout the world to interact with and view other people, what image do you want to portray on them? Maybe a better question is, what image do you want to portray to your next employer or client?
Let’s talk about LinkedIn first. If you do not have a LinkedIn profile, create one right now. Some would argue that this is THE most important step in building your digital profile. According to Forbes magazine, LinkedIn is estimated to have more than 187 million members, including executives from all Fortune 500 companies. That’s a lot of traffic and many of them may be looking at, or for, you. What might even be worse is if you do have a profile but it is not well-maintained. This can send the message that you aren’t technologically savvy, connected, or motivated. As it is a well-known fact that your employer will most likely check you out on LinkedIn prior to an interview, it is critical that it reflects who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and what you want to do in the future. And might I add, a professional photo goes a long way; do not upload a cropped photo of you and your friends at the beach! Like it or not, these sites are your first impression.
Next, there’s Google+. I have a Gmail account for email, but I have not kept a robust profile well-maintained on Google+. Yet, when I looked it up today, there are almost 12,000 views on my profile, and I am far from relevant! Since Google is at the center of so much on the Internet, be sure to keep your Google+ profile current with your education, career, life, and interests, links to blogs you write, websites you’ve designed, and/or projects you’ve completed. While the sky really is the limit on this site, always be cognizant of the image you want to reflect. Don’t overdo it, but don’t underdo it either. Put your best self out there, as you have proof in numbers that people ARE looking.
Finally, there’s Facebook. Consider this more of a cautionary paragraph. While I do believe that it is becoming less and less important to have a Facebook page/profile, what you post on Facebook is public and easily searchable, whether a person is your ‘Friend’ or not. Yes, there are specific Privacy Settings available that can limit much of the content you make available to a specific set of users, but your personal network can and often does become part of your professional network as well. I still see people posting about job opportunities all the time on Facebook. This here is reason enough to think twice about what you post here, both in images and words. Maybe your thoughts on politics or other polarizing topics are best saved for fireside chats with your family or closes friends who aren’t looking to hire you.
There are many other tools and sites that encompass your digital profile. I would argue that maintaining a compelling digital profile may become even more important than the traditional paper resume in a short time. A simple search on building out your digital profile will provide you with some great tips and innovative ways to put your best self out there, and perhaps move yourself to the top of that Google search.