How often do you Google your own name?

In today's competitive job market, it's not enough to have a well-crafted CV and cover letter. Recruiters also want to evaluate candidates based on their online presence. However, our recent survey found that many people in the UK don't take this fact into account when they search for work – and it could be sabotaging their job-seeking efforts.

TopCV asked 2,885 professionals, ranging from entry level to more than 20 years of experience, how often they search for their own name online - and the responses were surprisingly modest. When asked the question "How often do you Google your name?," 57% of respondents admitted to having never Googled their own names before, while an additional 26% only monitor their online personal brand one to three times a year.

It's vital for job seekers to carefully monitor and manage their social media activities to ensure that their online personal branding improves, rather than worsens, their chances of landing the job. It all starts with a simple Google search.

Don't let your online activities turn into job-seeking self-sabotage. Today, Google your name, as it appears on your CV, to work out work out what employers will find when they search for you. Once you've found all there is to find, ask yourself the questions below.

How do I come across online? What does my social media presence say about me?

According to research by TopCV partner CV-Library, one-third of recruiters admit to regularly "stalking" candidates online to gauge their employability. When you review the first-page results of your Google search, put yourself in the shoes of the person hiring. Ask yourself, "Is this someone I'd like to work with?" Every employee becomes an unofficial brand ambassador for their organisation. Are you publicly posting or ranting about anything that an employer would not wish to have associated with their company?

Which of my social media profiles should be part of my "professional identity?"

Make a list of every online profile you've ever created and then decide which ones you'd like to associate with your professional brand. For the profiles you want employers to find when they Google you, edit them to ensure they're telling a consistent story about your work history and education. Also, delete any posts that are questionable or do not paint you in a favorable light. For those personal accounts you don't want recruiters to uncover during their online search, increase the security settings so that only your close friends and family can find and access them. You may also consider changing the profile name to a nickname or your first and middle name. That way, employers won't be able to connect them to your candidacy. If in doubt, suspend any social media account where the posts could hinder your search.

Am I representing myself consistently online and on paper?

It doesn't matter if you prefer to go by James or Jamie or if you decide to include your middle initial as part of your professional identity. What matters most is that you consistently represent your name on your CV, cover letter, online portfolio or blog (if applicable) and whichever social media profiles you intend to associate with your candidacy.

Have I posted any photos that could sabotage my job search?

As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and the pictures you post across social media often make a first impression before you've met with a potential employer or recruiter. Don't let a dodgy photo damage your job-seeking efforts. Make certain your privacy settings are properly set, so only your closest circle of friends can see your personal photos. If in doubt, delete the photos in question.

In addition, carefully select a current, professional-looking headshot to use for your LinkedIn profile, the email account used for job-seeking activities and any other profile you intend employers to find during their online stalking.

Am I using my social media to reinforce my "professional brand?"

Social media has the power to help your job search as much as it can hurt it. Use the social media accounts you've designated to be part of your "professional identity" to showcase your knowledge and thought leadership. For example, thanks to LinkedIn's publishing platform, you can write, publish, and distribute articles to all your connections without having to maintain a separate blog. Click on the following link for more ways to improve your online brand and help recruiters find you.

Have I devised a way to regularly monitor my digital footprint?

Ed Balls may have gotten it wrong when he accidentally tweeted his own name instead of using the search function on Twitter, but his intentions were spot-on. Make it a goal to Google yourself monthly to actively monitor and manage your online presence. Better yet, set up a Google News Alert so that new results are automatically sent to your inbox.

If you're currently looking for a new job, be sure to add the task to Google yourself to your pre-interview checklist, so you're prepared to field any questions that may arise based on your search results.

In summary

If you aren't aware of how you come across online, you're neglecting a necessary component to your employability. It's essential that you pay as much attention to this as you would to your CV or interview performance.

Do you feel uncomfortable boasting about your accomplishments on your CV and LinkedIn profile? Let TopCV do the work for you.

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