One of the most important things you must do as job seeker is Google yourself. Along with your resume, prospective employers are viewing your online reputation when you apply for a job.  Execunet.com, a company that has been tracking statistics since 2004, found that 86% of employers use social media to determine if an applicant would be a good hire.  Your online identity, or lack thereof, can significantly impact your ability to get a good job. It is called a "digital footprint" and can range from neutral (you don't exist) to toxic (you're tainted). Ignoring your digital footprint can be lethal. If you haven't done so already, type your first and last name into Google.com or Bing.com and see what pops up.

Don't lose heart if what what you find isn't all good. You can improve your online identity and significantly increase your chances of getting the job you want. It's (fairly) easy and positive results can be seen pretty quickly. Personally, I am an avid fan of Amazon.com and purchase a wide variety of products from their site. I began using Amazon to buy textbooks for school and have purchased hundreds of books and other items over the years. When I first googled myself in 2008 or so, one of the first things that popped up was a review that I had written for a foot cream that I had purchased. Negative? No. Embarrassing? Definitely. Is that what I want employers to know? That I have dry feet? Yikes!  (In my defense, New England winters are brutal on your skin. I have to prepare myself for sandal season just like everyone else!) 

The first step improving or establishing your digital footprint involves looking a little deeper into your online identity. I would highly recommend using the FREE Online ID Calculator available at www.onlineidcalculator.com to evaluate your status. After answering some questions, such as: How many results did you get? How many results on the first three pages actually pertain to you? You will be able to calculate where you stand in the digital world. 

The next step is deciding what you want to convey to the outside world. This is known is your "personal brand" and should reflect your unique strengths as well as your personal and professional goals. Are you active in professional organizations such as SNA or your state NP association? Do you mentor others or spend time volunteering? Do you have a passion or desire to work in a specific area? These are some of the elements of a personal brand should all be reflected in your online identity. 

The final step is getting the word out.  Consider building an online portfolio by setting up your own website. You can post your resume, bio, papers you've written, projects you've worked on, or any other self-promotion materials you feel will reflect your personal brand. It is very easy and can be done for free. For this website, I used Weebly which can be found at www.weebly.com. They will guide you through the process step-by-step and have you up and running in about 20 minutes. Again, the best thing is that it is entirely free to set up a Weebly site. There are other free sites available that can be easily found by googling the term "free websites." 

If you have the time (and will continue to put the time in), consider setting up a blog. This can be done for free on your Weebly site as well - or it can be added (for free) at any time. It is perfectly fine if you don't feel comfortable having your own blog. The next best thing you can do is comment on other sites that are relevant to your areas of interest. Your comments don't have to be long, but they should be relevant and well written. Do not write anything negative or too controversial. Do make sure there are no spelling errors and use your real name. It can be as simple as, "I found this article to be immensely helpful. I agree with you wrote about XYZ and always consider XYZ when providing care to my patients. Thank you for posting this." Or, you can comment on another poster's comment, "I agree with what ABC said about XYZ, I think it is very important to do blah, blah, blah when working with patients." (Blah, blah, blah is simply a re-statement of what ABC wrote - how easy is that!) This is a good starting point. As you get more comfortable (or more knowledgeable), you can begin writing more relevant and substantial comments, such as "I agree with XYZ, but feel it's also important to consider 123 when providing care." 

After you've written about a half dozen or comments, check your name again and see what appears. Chances are, your comments will show up on the first page or two of your results. The first page that appears in a Google search is what you really want to improve, however the first three pages are considered important. Try it and see for yourself. And once you see results, keep up the good work. You will see how easy it is to build a positive online identity and may even make a few connections while you're at it. The biggest mistake you can make is to ignore what your online identity reveals to others. Future employers will be looking at you and it's up to you to decide what they will see. 

Also consider setting up an account on Linked In to get your name out there. This is another free site  that is considered a very important tool for job seekers. Not only can you use LinkedIn to show your brand to others, but you can learn (and connect with) potential employers as well. (More about LinkedIn to follow in an article I will be posting soon). Good Luck!


 


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