In the age of the internet, social network and mobile devices, it is completely impossible to separate your private life from your professional persona. That crazy party photo you took a while back might be just the thing your potential employers encounter first when they choose to look you up.
Of course, there is not a single person out there without at least few skeletons in the closet and your employer may find them all if they decide to make an in-depth inquiry.
Luckily, they probably won’t have the time or will for that, which can be a good thing. This means that all you need to do is make sure the first few links and images associated to your name are positive ones.
After this, even if they do stumble upon something mildly embarrassing, they might decide to look past it in the light of an overwhelmingly positive first impression.
Here are few ideas on how you can use personal branding and personal SEO to benefit your career.
1. Start with Your Google Snippet
While it is true that sometimes your employer might invest a bit into the analysis of your online persona a lot of people don’t have the time for this. Try to remember few of the last Google inquiries you made. Did you really click on the link or did you just use the information you found on the Google rich answers?
Seeing how we already talked about the importance of the first impression you need to start with your own Google snippet.
Here, you need to choose a photo you want potential clients, employers and partners to see and use keywords you believe would represent you the best. In this way, you would already be off to a great start since this will get indexed by Google relatively early in the process.
2. Social Media Marketing
We already hinted the importance of social networks in the introduction as one of the most important factors regarding your online persona. It is only suiting that we get more in depth on this topic. Sure, everything you upload on any network will be open to the eye of the public, but even here you need to have priorities.
Whether or not a potential employer checks your Facebook profile is optional, but one thing you know they are going to look at is your LinkedIn.
In order to make a positive impression here, you need to be specific and to the point at all times. This means displaying information such as location, position and company you are working at.
It also means choosing a suiting photo, which is ideally something professional but not pretentious (you are mostly aiming at down-to-earth kind of impression here). Finally, in the age of hyper-connectivity you need to link your profile to your G+, other social network profiles and even your website if you have one.
3. Make a Website
While 20 years ago having a website seemed as something reserved only for the most tech savvy of characters, today the tables have turned. Nowadays, having a website is more or less a common thing, but you would be surprised by just how many people fail in this project.
Having your own site is not an easy thing. What you need is a good display, a mobile friendly layout, consistently quality content and a catchy domain name (witty, easy to memorise and, of course, not already taken).
Nevertheless, a top-quality website is practically useless if it doesn’t drive enough targeted traffic. To ensure it reaches your customers, it is essential to incorporate a strategically planned digital strategy. This is where the SEO component gets to shine. It is a well-known fact that without a good SEO, a website is less likely to reach the top positions in the SERP. This is why many people turn to professionals.
4. Additional Networks to Look Out for
Earlier on, we put LinkedIn on a pedestal, which might be a legit thing to do in a business world, but most likely than not won’t be enough. Apart from this, it might also be worth your while to rethink about your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat persona and ask yourself a simple question: “would I want to hire a person from these profiles”?
If the answer includes at least a millisecond of doubt, you need to start changing things (after all, you will always be as biased as humanly possible). Finally, it might also be worth your while to work towards improving your reputation on platforms such as Quora, Tumblr, Vimeo and even Flickr. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
At the end, there is only one way to know if you managed to hit the mark. You need to Google yourself and then do a 10-minute research on what you find. The best way to do so would be from the internet cafe or someone else’s device since your own searches would most probably be shaped by your browsing history and previous online activity.
In the end, nothing that goes online can be completely erased from existence. What you can do through an extensive personal branding campaign is make sure that a first impression (or first few impressions) that someone makes of you is a positive one. Frankly speaking, this is usually more than enough.