Applying for a new job? Chances are that if your resume makes the grade, your new employer is going to plug your name into Google long before ever picking up the phone to call you back in. Just think about how often you do a quick Internet search before or after meeting a prospective client, supplier, hire, date, etc. In a recent survey of 100 executive recruiters by execunet.com, 77 percent of respondents said they use the Internet to uncover additional information about candidates. A third of those managers had eliminated applicants based on what they found. So while your work history might be spotless, a scandalous photo on Flickr.com, a tasteless comment on YouTube.com, or even an ill-advised political rant can get you blackballed. The first 3 pages of search engine results reveal a lot about a person. But the idea is: If there's enough content about you that's positive, it will camouflage the negative. Take the following steps to ensure that the next time your name gets typed into a search engine, those results uncover a spotless reputation.
Start a Blog
The benefits to starting a blog are many. One of the best is credibility. If you start a blog about your area of business expertise and write insightful stories on a regular basis—with proper grammar and all of your i's dotted and t's crossed—that can position you as an expert in your field and can help overturn any negative press or comments that may have been posted about you online. And because blogs are endorsed by their authors, they usually appear first in search results, which are ranked in order of recent updates, originality, and authoritativeness. To get started with your own blog, take a look at the top three most popular blogging services: Blogger (www.blogger.com); TypePad (www.typepad.com); WordPress (www.wordpress.com)
Create a Web folio
Short for website portfolio, a Web folio is a simple website that showcases your resume and other accolades. In other words, it's a website about you where others can go to learn more about you. The domain name should be your first and last name and the more of your accomplishments that you exhibit here, the better. Potential employers, and anyone else visits your Web folio, will want to not only view your work experience, but also get a feel for who you are and your personality. If you communicate all of this in a friendly, yet professional tone, convincing a recruiter or potential business partner that you're not the wild party animal that Flickr makes you out to be might take only a few minutes, as opposed to days or never. Here are a few good examples of what a Web folio should look like: Logan Kugler (www.logankugler.com); Chris Saribay (www.chrissaribay.com); Linda Formichelli (www.lindaformichelli.com)
Flesh Out Your LinkedIn Profile
Nearly 20 million business professionals are on LinkedIn. If you're not one of them, you're missing out. Not only is it the best networking tool in the world, but your LinkedIn profile can double as your online resume, even if you don't actively use the website to network. However, getting your LinkedIn profile page to appear first in search engine results will require you use the site to its full capability. While LinkedIn is incredibly useful in so many ways, one of the best ways to counter any e-skeletons you may have hiding in your closet is by getting people you've worked with in the past to write short recommendations about you which appear on your profile. Here's a great article by Guy Kawasaki about how to make sure your LinkedIn profile is operating on all cylinders: http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2007/01/linkedin_profil.html
Promote Your Web Pages
The best way to increase the ranking of your favorable web pages is by doing some guerrilla marketing. When you write a great story on your blog that you think others would be interested in, submit it to websites like Digg (www.digg.com) and Slashdot (www.slashdot.org). Another great way to increase traffic is by sending a link to the top blogs covering your industry. For example, if your blog is in the realm of technology, you can send a link to your story to top blogs like Gizmodo (www.gizmodo.com) and Engadget (www.engadget.com) as a news tip. Just make sure the story is new or original—blogs don't like using anything but the latest content, especially the bigger ones. And if you haven't already, add a link to your Web folio and mention your LinkedIn profile in your e-mail signature. Finally, don't forget to utilize your LinkedIn connections. Once you've got a few posts up on your blog, send a note to all of your connections asking if they'd like to subscribe to your blog.