Try it yourself to make sure what they see is positive. If you have some negatives pop up, it's time to bury the old negative stuff under newer, more positive results.
You can manage your online identity to control your reputation and your image in the job market in 5 ways:
- LinkedIn: Take the time to set up a professional LinkedIn profile, join some groups, and get active networking with other professionals. LinkedIn membership has other benefits, too: it's a tremendously powerful resource for you to research companies, keep tabs on the hidden job market, and contact hiring managers about jobs.
- Facebook: Although this can be a great, casual place to network socially, it's important that you don't get too comfortable. No trashy pictures, bad language, or any controversial religious or political comments. It's still a public forum, and you really don't know who might end up seeing something you've said, even if you're trying to be careful of your privacy.
- Twitter: Twitter is a terrific place to be in the conversation on just about anything. Again, watch what you say. Keep it professional. Ask questions, and try to help others. An employer will be impressed with someone who's engaged and relevant.
- Show up in unexpected places: In addition to interacting on the social sites, think about writing a guest post for a relevant blog, or start your own. Comment on other writers' articles with something of value.
- Be consistent: Get a professional photo (it doesn't have to be professionally done; it should just be a formal, businesslike pose) and use that photo every time a photo is called for. Make sure your name is consistently written (for example, always with a middle initial, if that's the way you are known professionally) so that it shows up in a search.
Ultimately, you decide how people will see you. Since you know they'll be looking, be proactive. Make sure they see the confident, competent professional they want to hire.
If you need help in establishing or improving your LinkedIn profile, check out our LinkedIn Profile Tutorial.