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Summary:

Employers are realizing that what people do online can actually prove their value as potential hires, not just rule them out based on drunken photos or revelations of other past missteps. Last year we saw articles like Overexposed in the Blogosphere warning how people’s online behavior […]

Employers are realizing that what people do online can actually prove their value as potential hires, not just rule them out based on drunken photos or revelations of other past missteps.


Last year we saw articles like Overexposed in the Blogosphere warning how people’s online behavior and misbehavior might ruin their careers. This year, thankfully, we see the other side in articles like Computer World’s Web anonymity can sink your job search:

In a 2006 survey by executive search firm ExecuNet in Norwalk, Conn., 77 of 100 recruiters said they use search engines to check out job candidates. In a CareerBuilder.com survey of 1,150 hiring managers last year, one in four said they use Internet search engines to research potential employees. One in 10 said they also use social networking sites to screen candidates. In fact, according to Search Engine Watch, there are 25 million to 50 million proper-name searches performed each day.

In today’s job market, turning up missing on the Web may not be a fatal flaw, and it’s probably better than having a search result in a photo of you in a hula skirt. But over time, the lack of a Web presence — particularly for IT professionals — may well turn from a neutral to a negative, says Tim Bray, director of Web technologies at Sun Microsystems Inc.

Many web workers know that if you build your professional profile online, you might be able to skip resume writing and interviewing when looking for a new job or new clients. A strong online presence can sell you better than any one page summary or one hour meeting.

Computer World offers five tips for building your online professional presence including checking search engines like Google and starting a blog. Marketing Pilgrim Andy Beal adds four more good tips:

  1. Buy your domain name. Even if you don’t do a lot with it, you should own a domain name that matches (as close as possible) your name. Your online brand is important, and guess what, despite how many employers you may ultimately have, you’ll likely keep that same name for life!
  2. Understand your Google profile. Most potential employers are going to use Google, so you may as well focus on the search results there. What’s being said about you, what pages are indexed? Don’t just look at stuff that is about you, look at listings that are about someone with the same name, yet maybe negative. You should be prepared to explain that the person convicted for 3 counts of armed robbery, is not actually you.
  3. Own your brand. When someone searches for your name, you should try and make sure you have as much control over what they see, as possible. Set up a Flickr account, LinkedIn profile, blog, user-group profile, etc. While you may need the talents of a search marketer to ensure these pages appear in the top 10 of a search engine, you don’t stand any chance if you don’t actually take the time to create the profile in the first place.
  4. Destroy the evidence. Ok, so while most stuff you put online is there for eternity, that doesn’t mean you can’t try some damage control. That blog post you uploaded – the one where you went on an all night drinking binge and broke into the local Krispy Kreme – remove it! While it may still exist somewhere on the web, it is less likely to show up in the Google search results, if you’ve removed it from your own blog/social network.

Unfortunately, the downside to having a very public professional or personal presence online can be having to deal with rudeness or worse. The vast majority of netizens are polite and friendly, but the few who aren’t can make online work intolerable sometimes. Still, on balance, we are better off having this additional way of showing off our talents and connecting with those with whom we might work productively.

  1. I think I have so far accomplished branding my name, as well as getting a presance out there. The only issue that comes down, is when it’s time to get paid “Rex Dixon” can’t cash any checks! SO…. that is why we have – Nuclear Inbox, LLC – who can cash checks.

    The real “legal/bank name” vs your online name comes to bite you here. Also, when applying for jobs, you have to let people know early on – your “real name” ie.. Real Name aka Rex Dixon.

    So far, I have had issues – landed me a gig at VentureBeat as well as a French company called Criteo.

    Rex

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  2. haha — that should be “so far has caused me NO issues”… duh..

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  3. Rex – I have the same issue because Zelenka is my married name but I never changed it legally. It’s a real hassle, especially when I register for conferences and then need to prove who I am. I want the badge to say Zelenka but my driver’s license says something else. So I carry around a mini-copy of my marriage certificate. In the next month or two I’ll probably change my name legally just to avoid the hassle.

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  4. I don’t have a name situation like Rex and Anne, but I have a potential solution for your online page. I have LegalAndrew.com. My legal name is all over it, so when you search for “andrew flusche,” you come up with my site. You can also help come up with alternate names (married v. legal) by putting those names in your meta-tags. Also, be sure to think of common misspellings of your name for your meta-tags.

    Great post,
    Andrew

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  5. This post is right on: online brand management and identity control are becoming a pure necessity. Search engines might return information we don’t want or it is someone else with the same name who is showing..
    This is what we realized and why we created Ziki. Ziki aggregates content and user profiles for promoting a cohesive a personal brand online. In other words to control your identity and manage your brand efficiently you need first to aggregate your content in one place.
    But we took Ziki to a further step: once you control your brand and your identity, you are in a position to promote yourself and your content; Thus you become pro-active on search engines. This is the right behavior to have in a crowded and busy online environment..
    Right now and for a limited period we sponsor for free first+last name, but soon members will choose through our interface their own keywords to promote themselves along with their content.

    Andre
    PS: Yes I am part of the Ziki team

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  6. [...] WebWorkerDaily: Why you might need an online persona. [...]

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  7. Great post. I’m in a battle to the death with some UK member of parliament, but am happily in the #2 slot in Google.

    If you want to set up a profile for SEO purposes, you might want to check out Here’s a blog post (not mine) on personal SEO, where the author actually does some fairly systematic testing.

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  8. [...] good article over on Web Worker Daily shows exactly why I started chriskelley.org.  Yeah, sure it is somewhat of an exercise in [...]

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  9. I’ve had my eye on bradlinder.com for a while now. Unfortunately it’s registered to someone else (who I assume has my name). Even though it’s had a “coming soon” message on the front page for the last 2 or 3 years, it doesn’t expire until 2008. *sigh*. I might just have to buy up bradfordlinder.com at some point, even though only my mom and brother call me Bradford.

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  10. I’ve found that it’s not that hard to clean up your web persona. It turns out, and this is not widely understood, that you own the copyright on anything you’ve written. This includes Usenet, comments on blogs, posts to forums, etc. You can ask that your stuff be removed, and if the site operator balks or misunderstands the law, a DMCA notification to the ISP, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft can make the site disappear (the lawyers at ISPs and search engines are familiar with the law).

    Personally, I’ve found that ISPs overseas (UK and Canada, in my case) will also help you enforce your copyright.

    Some possible pitfalls:

    – A browsewrapped or clickwrapped terms of service might include terms to the effect that you license your content or transfer copyright. This sort of thing may not hold up, but if the site in question invokes it in a DMCA reply, the ISP or search engine will end up saying, “Take it to court and let us know when you get an injunction.” At this point you’d have to sue. One tactic at this point is to spend a few hundred dollars and bluff by having an attorney begin a lawsuit by filing a complaint (with no intention of pursuing it beyond that). When the site owners thinks he’s looking at thousands of dollars in legal fees, he may back down.

    – Quoted sections in replies are harder to get rid of. For instance, Google won’t remove Usenet stuff from Google Groups from others that include short quotes from your message.

    – Depending on the context and topic, fair use or newsworthiness exceptions might be claimed.

    And finally, anyone who has a web site should include in the :

    This means that when you take your web site or blog or any content in it off the internet, it’s gone, for all practical purposes, since both Google and Alexa (Wayback Machine) will obey these. Make sure you have your own backup solution for your, however.

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