Is your on-line presence hindering your job search?

Autumn St. John is the content manager for Position Ignite, a website which offers a more inspiring, fun, insightful and creative approach to career support. In this blog post she looks at online reputation management – essential for today’s savvy joined up networkers.

Do you know the extent of your online presence? Are you happy with what employers might find out about you by Googling your name? It can be a hard fact to get your head round, but if you’ve used the internet – ever – then you have a digital footprint.

Around 80% of employers will Google you and search for your online presence before meeting you for an interview (source: CIPD). Your online reputation could be the first impression you make to an employer (and everyone knows how important first impressions are).

Online Reputation Management (ORM) is all about controlling the information people can find out about you and ensuring they find the online persona that you want to portray. For greater control, keep your personal and professional online personas separate.

Every blog post, tweet, status update and photo of you forms a part of your reputation. Employers will dig up information about you from your Facebook page (change your settings to private if you don’t want them to see it). But they also look on other popular networking sites like LinkedIn, MySpace, Bebo, YouTube and Twitter – and also lesser-known sites like Biznik, Xing, and Ziggs. There are also Big Brother-like applications like the Xobni plug-in for Outlook where an employer can see a snapshot of your online presence as soon as you email them.

It’s down to you to trace and manage this footprint to present yourself in the best possible light. Start by mimicking the employer: Google yourself and set up a Google Alert with your name as the search term. Test different search terms and also try putting “your name” in quote marks.

Search for yourself on Google images – you don’t want an embarrassing photo that you’ve forgotten about rearing its ugly head! If you discover something disparaging and you can’t delete it, bury it with positive new content.

In addition to monitoring what’s already out there, it’s just as important for you to build a powerful personal brand. Create an online profile with LookupPage and LinkedIn. LookupPage will get you to the top of Google, while LinkedIn displays your network and recommendations. Link the two sites for maximum effect.

Blogging is one of the simplest and most effective ways to make a name for yourself in your field and what’s more, it doesn’t cost anything. Search engines love indexing blogs and rank them high in search results because they’re full of fresh unique content and drive lots of traffic. Find blogs that deal with issues that you’re knowledgeable about and respond to other people’s blogs with comments.

You’d take pride in your appearance before an interview – take pride in your online reputation too.

Heather Townsend is the driving force behind The Efficiency Coach and a co-founder of 'the executive village'
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I help professionals, mostly accountants and lawyers become the Go-To-Expert. After joining BDO LLP in 2004, I have now almost clocked up ten years working predominantly with accountants helping them achieve their career and business goals. Unusually for someone with an Engineering Degree, I accidentally became a writer and used my knowledge on social media to write the current best-selling and award-winning book on networking, The FT Guide To Business Networking. (over 100 five star reviews on amazon) In 2012, the book I always wanted to write, 'How to make partner and still have a life' was published. In March 2014, my latest book, 'The Go-To-Expert: How to build your reputation, differentiate yourself from the competition and win business' was published. People frequently talk about me as someone who really knows her stuff – which may be the reason I have, over the last decade, worked with over 300 partners, coached and trained over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices. 

I am honoured to have been asked to judge the British Accountancy Awards in 2011 and 2012. I am a member of the Accountant's Club Global Advisory Panel, and write regularly on practice management issues for CCH.

Myself, and Jon (my co-director) are approved Growth Accelerator Coaches. This means that we can if you are eligible, through the Growth Accelerator scheme, help you get some coaching funded by the scheme. Click here for more details to see whether you are eligible for the scheme.

Read how we have helped one of our accountancy clients access Growth Accelerator funding to grow their turnover by nearly 50% and profits by over 200%

The types of work I am currently helping my small professional practice clients with, includes:

1) Helping a £2m t/o practice grow to £4m by restructuring the firm and helping the management team step up 

2) Working with a £1m t/o practice to grow to £2m by generating more leads, and getting more work from existing clients

3) Enabling a £300k t/o practice grow to £1m by helping it sort out it's profitability by adding in efficient systems and processes, and increasing the quality of the  lead generation by marketing to a niche

4) Facilitating the growth of a one man band practice into a 3 person practice by helping increase the lead generation and conversion rate of leads, plus keeping the practice owner accountable to his goals.

The Excedia Group was founded by myself and Jon Baker to bring clarity, perspective and knowledge to help our clients achieve their business goals. We specialise in working with highly technical individuals, typically lawyers and accountants, helping them to get out of their comfort zone and build a profitable and sustainable client portfolio whilst handling the challenges of leading a business. 

My work splits into about 50% Executive & Business Coaching with Partners & potential partners, with the rest split between training, consultancy and writing.

My articles & quotes regularly appear in the press, e.g. FT, Guardian, Accountancy Age, Accounting Today, Economia, ACCA's publications. I regularly blog at Partnership Potentialventure-NowJoined up networking and How to make partner.

To book me for a speaking engagement please contact my PR Agency, Meerkat PR, on 020 8563 0182, and ask for David Stoch. For any other work related enquiries, please contact me directly.

My clients have included: Deloitte LLP, KPMG LLP, BDO LLP, Haines Watts, MSI Global Alliance, UK200 group, Macintyre Hudson LLP amongst others.