For executive careers Perception is reality. Your online persona is the person the world knows.Nowadays when anyone is curious, they do an online search and get instant information. Search results for “your name” (which you cannot control) make your first impression on strangers. Few employers or contacts will wait to get your carefully crafted resume before judging you. If you not have been guarding your reputation and  actively promoting yourself, search results may not put your best foot forward.  Unlike a resume which is carefully crafted to present the most relevant facts, your digital persona may not communicate the image you want to make. If you want your job search to produce excellent results, your first job search task must be to google your name and objectively evaluate the findings from a stranger’s point of view.Before you read this, you probably would have started your job search by dusting off your resume and bringing your experience up to date. Historically, that was the right move. However, today most prospective candidates already have a virtual resume: it’s everything easily accessible and available to the public online. This includes what you have posted on your social media accounts as well as what others have posted about you. In other words, you do not have complete control of your online presence. However, your internet footprint or “virtual you” is the parent, professional, friend, neighbor, alumni, etc. that is visible to every curious searcher.  If this access was not enough threat to your reputation, take into consideration that you could be mistaken online for others who share your name (but not your outstanding qualities.)

Therefore, don’t start your job search by updating your official resume. Instead, begin your search by googling your name. This electronic data is as potent as any formal career document you write and transmit. If you are satisfied with “your name” search results, then you are ready to plan a strategic, proactive job search campaign. If you have any reservations about the search results for “your name,” you must address this because it could destroy your candidacy despite outstanding qualifications. Honesty, credibility and trustworthiness rank as high if not higher than matching all employer requirements for skills, education, experience, etc.

To assess our digital footprint, ask if you were a stranger googling “your name,” what would your immediate reaction be to your online persona?

  • Do you appear trustworthy, honest, and professionally competent?
  • Are your affiliations a positive influence?
  • Is your photo engaging?

If you can check off yes to each of these, then you are ready to launch a campaign that will rely on personal referrals, I.e., networking purposefully, to find potential opportunities.

If you are not satisfied with your online findings, you must improve your digital footprint because a bad online image is not competitive in today’s job market. Are you aware that if your name search doesn’t yield anything, that is not a positive result? You must promote a positive image based on flattering content. If there is no content about you, it’s like you don’t exist or may be suspected of hiding damaging information. One of the most convenient ways to first establish an online presence is by creating your profile on LinkedIn. It will rank high in search results and if you complete the template, provide substantial and meaningful information.

If you find any reference online that could be damaging, do not ignore it. You must either have it removed or consult an expert about pushing it down several pages so it is essentially buried and will not pop up on the first page of search results for your name.

After you establish or enhance or repair your online identity, you are now ready to turn your attention to planning your job search and activities like company research, scheduling networking meetings, crafting success stories to demonstrate accomplishments, writing correspondence, etc. so that you can tailor your resume to present your best self for the role you want to land.


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