By Philip Muggeridge. Published on 21 February 2017
How do you think your personal brand is perceived by somebody who doesn’t know you? If you haven’t been carefully curating your online activity you might not want to know!
First impressions count and nowadays that is more likely to come from your online presence than a face-to-face meeting.
As part of the research function in Eton Bridge Partners, my starting point when looking for talented people for our clients is always our own existing network and personal recommendations from people we know and trust.
But of course, we’re also always looking out for people we may not yet know, but whom we think are well-matched to our clients’ needs and are worth getting to know.
So, a great deal of our time is spent evaluating individual’s details online; naturally this always includes checking LinkedIn. Click here to read our previous blog which will provide you with ideas on how to improve your LinkedIn profile.
All I’d add here is make sure your LinkedIn profile is free from errors and poor grammar, that it is consistent with your CV and that it contains the keywords that will ensure you come up in a relevant search. Think about variations of a core keyword, for example Ernst & Young, EY and E&Y.
Some employers will look beyond LinkedIn to get a broader picture and, like anyone else, they are influenced by what they find online. It’s likely they will type your name into a search engine to see what comes up.
Have you ever tried Googling your own name? Amongst the first things that will appear will be your social media profiles.
Unfortunately, the quality that people post and include in their profiles can vary. And in the less formal environments of Twitter and Facebook, it can be too easy to let your guard down and share something or join a group that might not create the best impression for a potential employer.
There are some potential legal implications of using Twitter and Facebook to screen out candidates, which is why we don’t do it in Eton Bridge Partners. But research evidence suggests between half and ninety per cent of employers do.
So, unless you are 100% confident in the secrecy settings on your various social media, it’s best not to share any activities or views online you’d be unable to defend in public.
Negative online press coverage
As a high-profile senior executive, a search engine might also reveal stories about you that have appeared in the newspapers or trade press. Unlike social media, your control over how you are treated by the press is limited and we all know the press is not always fair.
There are several strategies you can use to address this kind of negative publicity:
1 – Try to outweigh negative coverage with positive. Write a blog, LinkedIn articles or journal features that demonstrate your expertise. Some senior executives even employ PR advisors to push the negative coverage to page two or beyond of the search engine results.
2 – If the story is patently false, raise it with the editor of the content source and ask them to remove it. If that doesn’t work, or the story is widespread, you can now approach search engines directly and ask to have results about you excluded. For more details visit https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061. Legal action is a last resort.
3 – If the story is true or partly make sure you have your honest side of the story prepared in advance, in case it comes up in interview. This might be as simple as the lessons you learned from the experience but make sure you have something positive to say.
Note: This goes beyond the scope of this blog, but if you find yourself compromised by material shared by others and a personal appeal does no good, you should consult the relevant authorities.
Why remain below the radar?
Not everyone wants to put lots of information online and I respect that there are many executives who are probably barraged by LinkedIn InMails from recruiters. That’s something a good researcher always tries to avoid, as it is invariably counterproductive
If, however, you are considering the next move in your career, then by improving your profile you increase the chances that a researcher like me will approach you with the ideal opportunity. An up-to-date and accurate profile means I can contact the right people with the right roles, many of which are exclusive to Eton Bridge Partners.
The research team is very happy to provide advice to our candidates on their online presence and personal brand, so if you think you might need a helping hand, do get in touch.
In the meantime, my 6 tips for managing your online brand include:
1 – Conduct a Google search on your name (with a modifier if necessary, eg Peter Cordly, Finance Director) and see what comes up. Look under the Image and News search options for a comprehensive check.
2 – Check your LinkedIn profile against the previous blogs we have published on the subject: LinkedIn – Get the basics right. Make sure you use keywords throughout and include your aspirations for your career if you wish.
3 – Participate in LinkedIn discussions but avoid getting involved in any online war of words. It’s great to have opinions you are happy to debate, but don’t get suckered into publishing something you later regret. It’s easily done.
4 – Don’t put anything, anywhere online you wouldn’t be happy for a potential employer or colleague to see.
5 – Be your own PR. Publish articles on LinkedIn and write your own blog to boost your online presence and share your expertise.
6 – Address negative publicity if you can. Prepare your key messages for direct questions in interview if not.
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