[03.18.10]
23 great comments!

Is Invisibility Killing Your Career?

The following is a great guest post from Ryan Rancatore, blogger and thought leader over at Personal Branding 101.  I love the way he writes and really wanted his take on personal branding for people who are scared to death to include a picture of themselves online or share anything else online that might be of interest to others.  In fear that it might be used against you.  I encourage you to become a part of his community and to follow his blog (see links at the end of his post).

Invisibility is quite the admirable quality if you are playing hide-and-go-seek.  Or if your wife just realized you drank the last of the milk.  But, when it comes to the web, invisibility is both a foolish and unattainable goal – especially if you are actively seeking to further your career.  Here is why ignoring your web presence is absolutely the wrong approach, and 4 simple ways you can become visible in a hurry.

I write about personal branding – a somewhat mysterious term that sounds painful at worst, confusing at best.  Essentially, I define personal branding as matching your inner qualities, strengths, and passions with your outward, visible persona.  A common question I receive is: “How can I get ahead if I want to keep my info hidden, and my name and face out of public view?” The simple answer: You can’t. “OK then, what if I don’t put anything at all about me on the web?  At least then I won’t hurt my chances, right?” No!

Even if you are yearning for web invisibility, Google will still track you down.  Who knows what Google might dig up?  Your overdue parking ticket from 1972.  Your donation to the Ross Perot presidential campaign.  An image from that Halloween party last year.  Literally, anything.  Go ahead, search for your name now if you haven’t already.  When you do, keep in mind that a recruiter or hiring manager is extremely likely to perform this very same search.  Would you rather she find a random collection of meaningless results, or several top links to sites showcasing your unique talents?  Imagine you are neck and neck with another job candidate, and their web presence is off-the-charts, while yours is non-existent (or worse).  Who is getting that job? (Hint: not you.)

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently stated that “the age of privacy is over”.  A tough pill to swallow for some – but he is right.  Information is out there, and you can’t stop it.  Instead, step in, grab the reigns, and control your “personal brand” that is displayed to the world.

Assuming you agree with me, that it is both unreasonable and unwise to attempt to hide from the web, let’s examine a few of the easiest ways to land on page 1 for a web search of your name.  Nothing fancy or overly revealing – just a way to claim your territory and establish a professional presence.

1.  Google Profile

Creating a Google profile is one of the simplest, yet most little-known ways to instantly land on page 1 of Google.  If you are hesitant, complete it in a minimalist fashion – include what you are comfortable with, and omit the rest.  Here are 7 steps to creating the perfect Google Profile.  Keep in mind that by uploading a profile picture, you instantly identify yourself versus others that share your same name.

2.  Linkedin Profile

If a recruiter strikes out Googling you, their next (and maybe final) search will be on Linkedin.  And, Linkedin profiles rank extremely high on actual search engines – resulting in instant visibility no matter the search method.  Again, if you are nervous, remember that you are in complete control of the flow of information here.  You can even make the majority of your profile private from all but your actual connectionsHere are 8 tips for creating a Linkedin profile that recruiters will love.

3.  Bio Site

Really, the most fool-proof way to claim the top Google spot is to create a simple website with the domain of www.yourname.com.  Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting a blog.  Not everyone is ready for fully broadcasting the ins and outs of life to the world.  With a little help, you can set up a clean, simple bio site in mere minutes – include a few key points, how to contact you, and call it a day.  Check out garyvaynerchuk.com for a ridiculously awesome example, and replicate the most basic 5% of it.

4. Facebook Profile

I know what you are thinking.  You don’t want the whole world “friending” you on Facebook (neither do I!)  But, a Facebook profile with a select amount of information revealed tends to rank highly in search engines (especially Bing).  Simply by including a picture and a list of professional groups/fan pages you follow, you can yet again control the flow of info that searchers will come across.  One key trick here is to claim your vanity URL, which search engines love.  Just follow these privacy tips to ensure you don’t make any huge mistakes.

By creating and publicizing the options above, you are likely to go from invisible to visible extremely quickly.  Instead of scratching their heads, recruiters will be nodding them – pleased to have found you, and looking to contact you to learn more.  When ready to boost your web presence a step further, consider a foray into blogging, engaging with a wide network on a site like Twitter, or even creating a video outlet via a YouTube channel.  When you do, let me know – I look forward to seeing you there!

Ryan Rancatore helps job-seekers, recent grads, small businesses and more create visible, stand-out brands at Personal Branding 101.  Connect with Ryan on Twitter at @RyanRancatore, or on Linkedin or Facebook.

Photo credit, Lili Vieira de Carvalho.




Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Personal Branding
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  • Great article, Ryan!

    You said, “Even if you are yearning for web invisibility, Google will still track you down.” That is so true.

    What can be even worse is if a Google search brings up the results of someone who is not you, but who has your name and has very unflattering information on the Internet. If HR/hiring managers don’t have anything from you about your online presence, they will attribute what they found in the links to you. It may not seem fair to be penalized for another person’s bad decisions, but that’s the reality of the world today.

  • Great article, Ryan!

    You said, “Even if you are yearning for web invisibility, Google will still track you down.” That is so true.

    What can be even worse is if a Google search brings up the results of someone who is not you, but who has your name and has very unflattering information on the Internet. If HR/hiring managers don’t have anything from you about your online presence, they will attribute what they found in the links to you. It may not seem fair to be penalized for another person’s bad decisions, but that’s the reality of the world today.

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