Drunken party pics on your Facebook page. Idiotic tweets. A half-assed LinkedIn profile you asked your nephew to put together between bar gigs. A night in the slammer for letting a goat loose in the gym on Senior Day. None of these look good to prospective bosses—and, trust me, they will look you up online.
Believe it or not, 75% of recruiters are required (required!) to research a prospect on the Web; what’s more, 70% of employers have nixed recruits based on what they’ve found there, a survey by cyber-reputation management company Reppler found.
To stand out from the crowd—in only the best ways—and get the job you want, here’s how to dress up and clean up the online you.
Firsts first: Look great on LinkedIn
No two ways about it: LinkedIn profiles have replaced the traditional résumé. Last year, 93% of recruiters said they check social profiles before making a hiring decision, according to a survey by online HR resource Jobvite. The site they used the most? LinkedIn, to check candidates’ experience and skills as well as less-tangible metrics like how well they write or whether they’ll be a good fit for the company.
So to really shine, you need to make your LI page as strong as possible, with an impressive summary of your experience, a flattering, appropriate photo, and detailed descriptions of at least your past two positions.
But you’ll need to go way beyond the obvious stuff. To wit:
In your headline and job history, embed the most industry keywords you can—LinkedIn filters its searches so profiles with the most relevant terms jump to the top. For instance, for a headline: “Fundraising consultant who helps major nonprofits raise more money. Clients include the Red Cross” (from an LI post by recruiter Pete Liebman). Throw in keywords relevant to your industry into your job history (like “SEO” for Web search).
■ Create a vanity URL for your profile, so instead of linkedin.com/in/172177, you’re linkedin.com/in/marioarmstrong. This puts your profile higher in Google’s search results. (The Help Center has how-tos.)
■ Add enticing extras—like multimedia content—to your profile. If you’re a designer, say, turn your page into a portfolio highlighting your best work by uploading JPEG files into your profile.
■ Get endorsements! Nothing makes your profile pop more than getting folks you’ve worked with to sing your praises.
■ Join LinkedIn discussion groups and participate to grab members’ attention—one could be looking for talent.
■ Sign up for LinkedIn Premium, starting at $30 a month, which gives you killer advantages such as the ability to contact industry higher-ups or contacts who could give you a hand, so you can get advice or ask to grab a cup of coffee and talk about the field. (Free LinkedIn users can send InMail direct messages only to people they’re connected to.) Premium also lets you create “Relationship” tabs when you view a profile, so you can make notes, set reminders to reach out, and build a tag system to organize present and future connections.