Marketing Yourself: The "Google Quotient"
Recently, at a noted IT conference here in Western Michigan, I spoke on the topic of “using the Internet to get that next job”. As promised, here are some of the high-lights from the event.
One of the first things I noted was how important it was to be searchable in Google. Afterall, in today's generation, Google is becoming more widely used than the phone-book. A few keystrokes seems like a lot less distance for your fingers to walk than the Yellow-Pages leaf-through of previous eras!
How searchable are you? Employers will be looking for you on Google --- it's almost guaranteed. So what will they find when they search for your name? What they find is referred to as a “Google Quotient” in some circles. This amounts to:
- What information about you on the front page of Google's natural search results for your name is actually about you?
- How much of that information is relevant to who you are professionally, and what you would like potential employers to know?
- How much of that information reflects well on you?
One particularly useful source for information on promoting oneself online (although geared to the more general audience of those promoting any kind of site or business on the Internet) is Jay Bercowicz's 10 Golden Rules of Internet Marketing
which features a regular podcast filled with great information that can easily be applied to your online job search.
One thing Jay recommends is maximizing your “Google quotient”.A good way to do that is by “owning your front page” on Google.In other words, the first page of results that appears when someone does a search for your name should feature results that have the following characteristics:
- Personal Relevance: All the results actually relate to you, and not to somebody or something else. This will be easy if you have an unusual name, but if you don't you can always try either using a middle name, some combination of your initials (such as “TJ” instead of “Thomas John”) or even inventing an alias or DBA altogether. Use this “new” name to brand yourself on your website, and on your resume, and in your business cards (which you can get for free at VistaPrint.
- Professional Relevance: Everything in the results pertains to the field in which you are looking for work. A good way to do this is to do forum postings, book reviews, and other professionally relevant online activities, always remembering to include your name in the post, etc. Even though you may have several online personas, such as perhaps a hobby site related to gardening, consider using a different spelling of your name for these, a screen-name, to in some way differentiate what will be found when someone searches for your name on Google.
- Positive Reflection: Does the material online actually reflect well on your ability to perform professionally? Of course, avoid inappropriate photos and comments posted online, making sure your social media presence is clean and ready to be viewed by potential employers. Make sure you've established an adequate amount of online professional presence, and even see if you can get others to recommend you on their websites - afterall, a good word is so much more believable coming from somebody else!
*Join professional networking groups in the real world - often these will have special deals for members to help them promote themselves online while expanding their professional skills and capacity. For example, the WGD Forum
has a free book review program, along with door prizes (often books as well) that allow field experts to demonstrate and increase their expertise by reading these books and reviewing them online.
Your Own Domain Name
Of course, the first result for your name, should be, ideally, your own website. We highly recommend purchasing yourname.com, as soon as possible, particularly since there is a tendency for cyber-squatters to buy up domain names that seem like someone might have an interest in them, and then resell them for far more than they would have cost originally.
MICROENTERPRISE and the NEW ECONOMY
Today's economy shifts the focus from life-time employment to the other end of the of the spectrum. From commitment and stability to flexibility and risk, employees are finding that they are in no way any more insulated from the variations in the economy than are business owners.
This requires a fundamental shift in mindset. No longer can the average worker afford to think of themselves as a safe, isolated part of a larger corporate machine which both supplies their needs and reduces the complexity of tasks required of them. Instead, today's workers need to realize they are essential the pioneer of their own micro-enterprise.
You are your own business, whether you like it or not. The instability of outside factors have caused employers to shift the relationship that they have with employees from that of a long-term community relationship, to that of a vendor-client, where the employee ceases to be an integral part of operations and a member of the “corporate family” and holds a role closer to that of a supplier who is contracted for services as the need arises.
In this economy, where stability has been ousted by flexibility, it is important to have a strong sense of who you are and what you do. Often referred to as You, Inc.
, this concept requires a type of personal mission statement, and an identification of the niche that you will best inhabit. This flows from knowing and understanding the following aspects of yourself:
- Your Skills: What it is that you're able to do
- Your Values: What it is that you care about
- Your Passions: What is it that you want to do (what will get you out of bed in the morning?)
So, now the question is, what do you do, exactly, and how will you market yourself?
Branding, the establishment of the look/feel and identity of your “you business” here is particularly important. How will you represent yourself? This mostly pertains to your visual appearance (e.g. business cards, letterhead, web headers, etc.) and should be polished carefully.
If you're not a designer yourself, consider a partnership with someone who is. More and more people today have more time than money, and if you have valuable skills and services to provide, trade them. There are many designers out there who may not be able to pay for your services, but who need them, and who would be happy to add to their portfolio designwork done on your behalf, in exchange for something you can do.
RELATIONSHIPS and POSITIONING YOURSELF
In the Career Track
instructional DVD, we discuss key concepts that will change the way you look at marketing yourself online. Here are some important ones:
- Positioning: Even the man standing outside with a “Will work for food” sign has something to offer, and he is letting people know - though not in the best way. How can you make sure you're visible, and that people can see you?
- Build Relationships: This is one of the answers. Finding and keeping relationships is vitally important, as this is a key way to promote yourself, but also to help others who are in their own kind of need. Doing so online is easier than you may think, particularly with the highly specialized groups on professional online networking sites like LinkedIn.
- Play the Numbers Game: Make sure your exposure is maximized, by letting as many of your online contacts know as possible that you are on the hunt for a new job. Don't just post to your Facebook friends, but put a note on Plaxo or Twitter as well.
- Promote Yourself Actively: Don't just stand there with your “Will Work for Food” but make sure you engage in conversations directly.
Here are some links that might come in handy.