When you’re in career transition and connecting with influencers, recruiters and hiring managers, many of them will investigate you online to form their initial impression. Will they find any digital dirt?
Digital dirt is anything negative or unflattering posted about you – and sometimes by you – online.
Where digital dirt could be hiding
As we know from our look at how recruiters search for candidates online, 94% of them use social media. You also can’t forget about the most basic online research tool – the search engine.
You must conduct your own web searches regularly, to see what recruiters and hiring managers will discover when they type in your name (both with and without quotes).
Manage your content and settings
When you’ve posted something yourself, for example an inappropriate photo on Facebook, sometimes you can simply delete it and the problem is solved.
Since Facebook can and does change their policies, you should regularly review your privacy settings on Facebook to control who can find your personal profile and view your posts.
On a related note, on LinkedIn you should be aware of your settings for activity broadcasts – this determines whether your connections will be notified every time you change your profile. If you’re currently employed, you likely don’t want your employer seeing these types of changes.
Bury the dirt you cannot delete
Other times, though, things may show up on social media sites or search engines that someone else has posted – perhaps with a grudge against you. Avoid getting into arguments or mud slinging. You’ll come across much more professionally if you take the high road.
As with the LinkedIn settings example, the search results may not necessarily be negative, but still not something you want an employer or prospective employer to see. There may even be someone else with your name, and you want to avoid any confusion or fallout from their digital dirt.
Since you cannot easily remove content posted on other people’s sites, your only option is to bury it below the first, second or even third page of search results. And the only way to do that is to post enough of your own high-quality material.
You need an intensive posting schedule that includes:
- Regular blog posts on your own site
- Guest posts on related sites that have a high level of authority in your industry
- Social media activity (here are my social media tips for executives)
Essentially, whatever you post online should be pertinent to you and communicated positively and professionally as you continue to build your personal brand.
With attention to detail coupled with an assertive effort, you can minimize any online negativity associated with your name and force it lower in the search results.
If people really want the whole story about you they’ll keep looking past the first page, but if by then they’ve seen numerous positive examples of your relevant content, you’ve minimized any potential brand damage and effectively positioned yourself as an expert in your chosen field.