Chelsea Wagner is an intern at BrandYourself.com. She is a third year Public Relations major at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
A first impression can make or break an internship opportunity, and it happens before you meet someone face-to-face. 80 million names are Googled daily, 77% of employers do a Google pre-screen on applicants, and 35% of these employers eliminate candidates based on negative content. Scared that some unnoticed and unfavorable Facebook photos will be your undoing? Don’t be. But do follow these essential tips to make sure your online reputation is first impression ready, and use this new step in hiring to your advantage.
1. Google Yourself
What do you find? Almost everyone falls into the following three categories:
- Negative Content: This is that unnoticed tagged photo, a post by a bitter ex-boyfriend or even that impulsive 4 a.m. tweet @stonrgrlproblem, and it can spell disaster for your online reputation.
- Low-ranking content: You might work hard to create a positive online presence, but if none of it shows up when your name is Googled, employers will still think you are unimpressive.
- No content at all: If you have nothing about you on the web, employers will assume that you’re irrelevant and inexperienced. Keep reading to quickly create positive, visible results.
2. Buy Your Domain Name
A domain name is the first thing that Google considers when it ranks search results. Services like Godaddy or Register.com make it cheap and easy to purchase your domain. If someone else already has your name, try using your middle initial or purchasing a .net or .org (the two best ranking extensions behind ".com")
4. Create a Personal Website
A personal website or blog is the main attraction for your entire online reputation. A résumé and professional bio are a must on your website, but to help yourself to stand out in the crowd, include other information that illustrates who you are as an individual.
5. Create Professional Networking Profiles
You probably already use social networks, but it’s important to manage them in a way that they help your online rep and don’t drag you down.
- Use Your Facebook Privacy Settings: Make sure your Facebook photos are set to private to keep your weekend antics under wraps, or better yet- don’t let people take incriminating photos of you in the first place!
- Tweet Responsibly: Even if you use Twitter for personal versus professional reasons, it’s important to show that you’re professional and relevant to your industry, and that you know how to spell. Add some professional zing to your stream by jumping into relevant industry tweet chats or strike up a conversation with influencers in your industry via @ reply.
- Build a Complete LinkedIn Profile: Even if you haven’t had a lot of experience, employers will see that you take your professional opportunities seriously. Ask your professors, peers, or former employers to provide recommendations, and you might even get recruited based on your LinkedIn profile!
6. Register with High-Ranking Directories
Services like BigSight, Zerply, and BusinessCard2.com are the “yellow pages” of the Internet. They will help those Googling you find you more easily because your results will rank higher, and they only take a few seconds to set up. Also, be sure to link from these directories to your most relevant content online, such as your personal website.
7. Boost Your Info to the Top of Search Engines
Now that you exist in all the right places online, you need to make sure that employers find your content when they search for you. To learn how to boost your profiles to the top of search engine results, check out this great beginners& guide to Search Engine Optimization (SEO).