Managing Your Reputation Online

The results that appear when recruiters and hiring managers search for your name online may determine whether or not you get called in for an interview. To improve your profile online and increase your career opportunities, take advantage of blogs and social networking tools.

By Kirsten Dixson and William Arruda, personal branding consultants and authors of Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand
Mon, October 01, 2007

CIO — People are googling you. People who matter—colleagues, employees, managers, clients, hiring managers and executive recruiters—are making judgments about you based on what they find online. Consider the following statistics:

  • 23 percent of people search the names of business associates or colleagues on the Internet before meeting them, according to a 2004 Harris Interactive poll.

  • 83 percent of recruiters use search engines to learn about candidates, according to a 2007 ExecuNet survey.

  • 43 percent of recruiters have eliminated candidates based on information they found online, up 17 percent from a similar 2005 ExecuNet study.

Your search results may determine whether or not an executive recruiter calls you in for an interview, you land your next job or attract the best technology professionals to your organization. Given the extent to which people use search engines as research tools today, building and managing your identity online is no longer a luxury. It's a requirement.

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But where and how do you start? It can be challenging to get high-ranking results for a search on your name or to remove inaccurate information from websites. Fortunately, you can take a variety of measures, including starting a blog, actively engaging in online discussions appropriate to your profession, and joining social networking sites like LinkedIn, that will boost your online profile and improve your standings in search engines. Like anything worth doing, these activities require a consistent investment of time, but they're enjoyable and great ways to network.

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Establish Your Baseline
The first step in taking control of your online identity is to know where it stands. Enter your first and last names in quotes into a search engine. How many results do you get? How many of those webpages actually pertain to you? Do the references to you on the Web communicate a positive, negative or neutral image of you? How consistently do those results communicate what you want to be known for—your personal brand?

The online identity calculator at CareerDistinction.com will measure the effectiveness of your online identity and rate it on a scale of one to 10, from digitally disguised to digitally distinct (See sidebar, The Scale of Digital Distinctness). Knowing where you stand will help you determine exactly how much work you have to do and your next steps.

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