The Search Is On: 5 Tips To Improve Your Google FactorHave you Googled yourself lately? It’s something I regularly ask my coaching clients and I pose the question to you…when was the last time you searched for yourself online?

Your Name/ Your Brand

While an impressive resume and interview skills are important to landing a new job, your Google factor is key as well.

I’ve served on several search committees, and, in my experience, Googling prospective job candidates is standard procedure. Online searches are yet another avenue by which prospective employers can evaluate you, so it’s essential that your results show you at your best. Now more than ever, your online presence is a reflection of your reputation, and integral to your personal brand.

Knowledge Is Power

I encourage you to beat prospective employers to the punch and get familiar with what comes up when your name is plugged into a search box.

Lots of results linking to professional profiles/ groups and community activities add to your personal brand, however online findings that could be perceived as crossing the proverbial line of decorum, (ie: blogs/comments expressing extreme or negative views, photos/videos of you having too much fun) could mean not getting a job, or even invited in to interview. A study from Microsoft Research found that 70% of recruiters reported eliminating potential job candidates due to cyber-vetting.

Being vigilant about your digital footprint ensures that there are no surprises for you or a potential employer during the interview process. Consider these five tips to help get you started:

1. Search your name.

  • Peruse search engines, including Google, Yahoo and Bing, to know what’s out there in cyber-land about you.
  • While the first page of results is most important, know what’s on the next two to three pages as well.

2. Update social network profiles/ blog content.

  • Have a well-polished LinkedIn profile. According to the latest Jobvite survey, 94% of recruiters use, or plan to use, social media such as LinkedIn, to find their next hire.
  • Make sure your Facebook privacy setting is on Friends as opposed to the default Public setting where anyone is able to see your posts.

3. Remove what you can.

  • Delete any comments or photos on Facebook if they seem less than professional.
  • Delete dormant profiles on sites such as MySpace.
  • Edit or delete personal blog content or You Tube videos that could be considered unprofessional or negative.
  • Contact the publisher of blog or news sites where you’d like past comments or photos removed. They may or may not oblige you, but it’s worth a try.
  • Reputation repair services such as www.reputation.com and www.brandyourself.com are available to help manage search results, but can be expensive.

4. New content/ new results.

There may not be anything you or a service can do to remove some content – it may be on the web forevermore – however new search results associated with your name can help. Newsletter mentions, fresh blog or Twitter posts – any new activity – will get picked up by search engines like Google and Yahoo and push the less desirable results down the line into more inconspicuous territory. You can, in effect, flood the cyber-world with positive accomplishments that can potentially overshadow any less desirable results.

5. Think before posting.

Approach all online activity as public relations for your personal brand, and you’ll become more discerning about what you post, and what you allow others to post about you.

Worthwhile Investment

Positive search results can help seal the deal when it comes to getting a new job, so be proactive and take the time to research, manage and build your digital presence. You never know what new opportunities will come your way thanks to your Google factor.