E-branding is the process of developing your personal brand online. As more recruiters perform searches through various sources on the web such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google as part of background checks, it is important to ensure that you have a positive presence online. The first step to developing your positive web presence is to know what is already out there about you.

Google yourself and set up Google alerts

Take a moment to “Google” yourself and see what results come up. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Associated Content profiles normally rank high in Google searches. Check the top ten search results and make sure they show you in a positive light. For example, if your social media profiles show up among the top, make sure they are free from photos that could jeopardize your chances of getting a job. Even if they are not among the top, chances are a recruiter will at least try to find you on Facebook. If the top result is a news article that shows you getting into legal trouble, it may be time for some person public relations work.

Go to www.google.com/alerts and set up an alert on your name. This will notify you whenever your name appears on the web and searchable on Google. Knowing where you are brought up and what is begin said will help you manage your online presence. Also set up an alert for industries and companies in which you are interested. They will help you have intelligent conversations during interviews.

Besides Google, you can also set up a search on Twitter for “jobs in (city, industry, etc.).” You can also establish a search for your name, companies, and industries there as well. I prefer TweetDeck, but feel free to use whatever Twitter client you like.

Secure your name where you can

On almost all social network you have the option to set your own sub domain name (profile URL). For example, my linked in address is: http://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelmaine. Set these up with your name if available. If they are not available, try to get as close as you can. That way, when a recruiter searches your name, there’s a better chance your profile will be among the top results, helping you control your online identity.

Purchase your own domain name

Domain names are becoming scarcer each day. Try to purchase your name as a domain. Some reputable registrars are GoDaddy, HostMonster, and Joker. Again, once put to use, having your own domain will help you control what recruiters find and place you among the top of search engine results for your name.

Email Addresses and Voice mail Messages

When you are looking for  a job, it is not a good time to use comical email addresses or voice mail messages (unless the industry you are targeting appreciates that kind of creativity). Make sure your name is present in both. For example, try using firstname.lastname[at]gmail.com instead of sillyeyedgoofball[at]gmail.com. This way a recruiter doesn’t have to struggle to find out who is contacting them or vice versa. Ringback tones are not helpful here. If you absolutely want to have funny email addresses and voice mail messages, consider creating a new email account for more professional uses and a service such as Google Voice or YouMail to establish group-specific voice mail messages.

Clean up your social profiles

  • If you have any suggestive pictures, remove them.
  • If you are under 21, take down any pictures of you drinking.
  • Don’t have any pictures of you doing drugs.
  • Update privacy settings allow only you to tag yourself in photos.
  • Make sure your “about me,” “favorite quotes,” and other sections are appropriate.

Job Hunting Series