The results that show up when someone types your name into Google are becoming increasingly important for your career. It wasn’t that long ago that it was rare for a potential employer to search for the name of a candidate. Now it is becoming rare for them NOT to do some type of search.
In many cases, the first page of results for your name are going to be more important than what you put on your resume. It is easy to make a claim on your resume, but what Google says about you will often carry more weight because it isn’t something under your direct control.
However, just because it isn’t under your direct control doesn’t mean you can’t influence what shows up in search results. Here are some tips for refining what people find when they search for your name.
Blog and Write
One of the best things you can do to look good online is to take the time to write about topics in your industry on a regular basis. Even a simple blog at WordPress.com or Tumblr can rank very well for your name if it isn’t too common. When someone is thinking about hiring you and they do a search, it is extremely positive if they find page after page that you have written about your industry that shows your expertise.
Buy Your Domain Name
Go ahead and invest the $15 per year in your own domain. If you can get FirstnameLastname.com that is ideal, but even if you can’t, go ahead and get Firstname-Lastname.com or .net, .org, .me, or whatever is available. You can point those to your blog, an online resume, or at the very least make it redirect to your LinkedIn profile. One of the things that Google uses to decide what content to show for a particular search term is the URL. Having a site with your name in the URL helps move it to the top of the results for your name.
Interlink Your Online Presences
Your Google+ account should link to your LinkedIn page. Your About.me profile should link to your Google+ account. Your blog should link to your resume. Most search engines use the number and importance of incoming links as a signal for how important a page is. By linking your different online pages to each other, you can help increase the chances that one of them will show up on the front page when someone searches for your name.
Link to Positive Pages
If a newspaper wrote a positive article about you and it is available online, be sure to link to it from your blog and share it on Twitter, Facebook or anywhere else you can. This will help raise the importance of the page with the positive content and show the search engines that it is more important than other pages that might have your name on it.
Be Careful What You Post
If you don’t want potential employers to see a picture of you running drunk through the streets with a lamp shade on your head and no shirt, don’t post a picture of it on the Internet. You may not have control of what other people post, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot by putting up content that will hurt your chances of getting a job in the future. Make sure you understand the privacy settings on Facebook, Google Plus or whatever social media tools you use.
This doesn’t apply to just photographs. That heated argument you are involved in on a forum or mailing list may become the top result in searching for your name.
Get Negative Content Removed
You often can’t do this, but if a friend has a post on their blog that reflects negatively on you, ask them politely to take it down. If you can’t get something removed, the only thing you can do is try to add enough good content that it gets pushed to the second page.
Regularly Google Yourself
If people are going to be searching for you by name, you should be doing it as well. At least once a month, do a Google search from a browser that isn’t logged into Google to get an idea of what other people are going to see if they want to find out more about you.