Research shows that people look you up on social media before deciding to work with you. And the posts they find directly impact their decision to hire or reject you.
From job offers to college acceptance letters, promotions to business partnerships and even first dates – search results for your name influence your life more than you may realize.
Once you’ve built a strong foundation for your brand, you must regularly improve the quality of your profiles and website(s) to enhance rankings and build your audience.
Follow this guide, to make sure the web properties you control are maximizing your career opportunities – and not losing you business.
What you’ll learn in this guide:
- 12 stages of your career and why improving the quality of your web properties matters at each: Someone is looking you up online at every stage of your career. Here are some of the most common examples.
- 72 risk factors and positive factors to pay attention to when improving the quality of your profiles: Positive and negative factors impact your earning potential. Here are some of the most common factors that can impact your career. Improving the quality of your properties means erasing risk and encouraging opportunity.
- 61 ways to improve your web properties to win clients and beat your competitors: We’ll walk you through some of the most effective ways to improve your site and profiles.
- 3 ways BrandYourself can help: Regardless of your budget or your schedule, BrandYourself is here to help you.
Part 1: Improving your web properties matters at these 12 stages of your career
You’re being searched online at every stage of your career. People who are just starting out as professionals need a branding strategy as much as people who have worked for 20 years. Building web properties under your name is important, but you must do more for short and long-term gains.
You need to improve the quality your profiles and website(s) over time to signal to Google that they’re fresh, relevant, up-to-date properties that will be useful to searchers – and thus rank higher in search results.
If you don’t regularly improve these profiles with high quality content, they will quickly lose authority and drop in rankings.
- This article from Moz highlights the need for site and profile updates.
If you think that controlling quality web properties isn’t a must, think again. Here are just a few examples of when you’re being searched online throughout your career.
- Applying to school: 40% of college admissions officers look you up on social, quadruple the percentage that did in 2008.
- Applying to entry level jobs: 70% of employers research job candidates on social. And 96% of recruiters use social media to find candidates.
- Applying to C-Level jobs: 90% of executive recruiters look you up on social
- Working full time: 51% of employers use social media to research current employees. 34% found content online that caused them to reprimand or fire an employee.
- Freelancing or consulting: 81% of employers screen freelancers, independent contractors and consultants online, a percentage which has nearly doubled from 48% in 2011.
- Running a private practice:
- 41% of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility. (link and primary source: Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group).
- Finance advisors:
- 63% of prospective clients look up recommended financial advisors and base their decision on what they find (“36% of the mass affluent audience uses social media for discovery (learning about financial trends, companies, products, or accounts) and for consideration (seeking advice and further information to evaluate what they’ve learned). The influence of discovery and consideration for financial decisions is strong, as 63% of those who use social media for both purposes take action based on what they learn” ).
- According to a 2014 survey from FindLaw, 38% of the adults surveyed used the internet to find an attorney, up from only 7% in 2005. This means that more people use the Internet to find a lawyer than ever before.
- Selling products/services: Social media influences the online shopping behavior of 45% of digital buyers worldwide. (link)
- Attracting and retaining employees:
- 78% of executives believe that social CEOs have a positive impact on their company’s reputation (Weber Shandwick)
A good reputation doesn’t just attract new talent, it keeps the best talent.
- Getting positive press:
- 58% of journalists consider social media very important or important for sourcing information, so your posts give you the chance to help the media tell your story in a narrative you control (cision – 2016 Social journalism study)
- Buying/renting a property:
- Borrowing money:
- Approximately 19.3% of adult Americans are credit invisible/ have credit records that cannot be scored – social media is the top alternative credit rating.
- Online dating: 42% of singles judge a date first by their social media posts – so maybe this isn’t a “stage of your career”, but it might be a stage in your life.
Part 2: 72 risk factors and positive factors make improving the quality of your profiles and website a must:
Every time you post, tag, comment, snap or publish something, you have the opportunity to make a positive impact on others.
By improving your profiles and site(s) regularly, you show search engines that you are relevant. By sharing high quality original content, you create more opportunities to engage with others and grow your audience. If you are concerned about how your brand looks online, or aren’t sure what kinds of improvements will be the most helpful, consider this:
If you’re applying to school:
47% of admissions officers who looked up potential applicants online say that what they found had a positive impact on students’ application efforts. (Kaplan)
These include examples of:
- Engagement on LinkedIn:
- 80% of students who included links to this profile and were looked up by a representative from the schools where they applied were accepted (according to a small study).
- Awards and honors
- Extracurriculars (especially those not mentioned elsewhere on the application)
One admissions officer said, “One student described on Twitter that she facilitated an LGBTQ panel for her school, which wasn’t in her application. This made us more interested in her overall and encouraged us to imagine how she would help out the community.”
42% percent of admissions officers who check student social media accounts have discovered information that negatively affected an applicant’s prospects. (Source: Kaplan Test Prep Survey, 2017)
Admissions officers look for these red flags on your social media profiles:
- Inappropriate behavior
- References to drugs, alcohol
- Content that’s sexual in nature:
- Hostile speech and swearing
- Weapon-related content
- Illegal behavior
- Predictors of enrollment & success/failure on campus (using big data from social media)
If you’re applying to a job:
86% of U.S. recruiters and HR professionals say that positive online reputation influences their hiring decisions. Nearly half say that a strong online reputation influences their decisions to a great extent. (From CrossTab’s “Online Reputation in a Connected World”)
- Information that supports their qualifications for the job: 61%
- If the candidate has a professional online persona: 50%
- Candidate’s personality came across as a good fit with company culture – 43%
- Candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests – 40%
- What other people are posting about the candidates: 37%
- Candidate’s background information supported their professional qualifications: 38%
- Candidate had great communication skills: 37%
- Candidate had a professional image: 36%
- Creativity: 35%
And two other studies provide additional factors recruiters like to see on social media profiles:
- Mentions of volunteerism or charity donations: 65%
- Professional memberships and affiliations: 4 out of 5
“Recruiters look for professional experience, tenure, hard skills, industry-related voice and cultural fit as part of the hiring process.” (jobvite)
- Concerns about the candidate’s lifestyle: 58%
- Inappropriate comments and text written by the candidate: 56%
- Unsuitable photos , videos, and information: 55%
- Comments criticizing previous employers, coworkers, or clients: 40%
- Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information: 39%
- Information about them drinking or using drugs: 38%
- Membership in certain groups and networks: 35%
- Discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion: 32%
- Lied about qualifications: 27%
- Poor communication skills: 27%
- Profanity, and grammar and punctuation errors trigger negative reactions among recruiters over 60% of the time [jobvite]
- Linked to criminal behavior: 26%
- Shared confidential information from previous employers: 23%
- Unprofessional screen name: 22%
- Lied about an absence: 17%
And it’s not just posts you’ve published. Employers reject candidates based on other people’s comments, posts and tags on the candidate’s profile, including:
- Inappropriate comments or text written by friends and relatives: 43%
- Inappropriate comments or text written by colleagues or work acquaintances: 40%
And recruiters are turned off by [jobvite]:
- Profanity: 65%
- Spelling/grammar errors: 61%
- References to guns: 51%
- Overly religious posts: 28%
Part 3: 61 ways to improve your web properties to win clients and beat your competitors:
Improve the quality of your properties, with the following:
Complete and optimize your profiles and website(s)
- Update your professional photo
- Include your full professional name in your profile
- Include your current professional title (or the one you’re seeking)
- Add the name of your business
- Write your location (city, state)
- Update any descriptions of your job
- Add your full name to any public profile URLs if possible
- Join professional groups and networks relevant to your work and training
Write high-quality content, posts and comments
- The longer the better
- Shoot for 2,000+ words when it comes to posts
- Cite reputable sources
- To increase the thoroughness of your content, consider adding:
- Alternate perspective or viewpoints
- Examples to help illustrate difficult concepts
- Quotes or evidence from additional sources
- Links to learn more about the topic elsewhere
- To make your text easier to read:
- Do it the old fashioned way:
- Have a friend or family member to read it. Ask them how to make it easier to read and understand.
- Read it out loud. You’d be surprised how much you can simplify your writing when you actually say the words.
- Use free tools:
- Do it the old fashioned way:
- Proofread and avoid spelling and grammatical mistakes. Google will penalize them.
- Clearly organize and structure your content.
- Tips to create unique content:
- Create a new, useful insights that no other site offers
- Write an original piece of research
- Break an exciting news story
Follow Google’s guidelines on high quality posts
Ask yourself these questions before posting (Source: Google webmasters blog):
- Would you trust the information presented in this article?
- Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well?
- Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same topics with slightly different keyword variations?
- Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
- Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
- Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
- Does the article provide original: content,information, reporting, research, or analysis?
- Does the page provide value when compared to other pages in search results?
- How much quality control is done on content?
- Does the article describe both sides of a story?
- Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites? Do individual pages or sites equal attention or care?
- Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
- Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
- Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Does this article have an too many ads that distract from the main content?
- Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
- Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
- Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail?
- Would users complain when they see pages from this site?
Here are the types of posts we recommend sharing, because they give the biggest bang for your buck:
1. Post an article related to your line of work.
Example: “Real estate prices went up 20% over the last four years in Boston: http://news.com//8920“
2. Post a lesson you’ve learned.
Example: “So happy to hear the Ice Bucket challenge has raised over $40 million for ALS research, and wasn’t just a passing gimmick.”
3. Post job opening at your company.
Example: “Acme Inc. is currently looking for a Digital Asset Coordinator. Message me for details!”
4. Post a question about your industry.
Example: Anybody know of any real estate associations in the Boston area?
5. Post tips for people in your field.
Example: Check out the 7 morning rituals of all productive people.
6. Post an inspirational quote.
Example: Work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work – Steve Jobs
7. Post the latest news from your company.
Example: Our company was just voted as one of the top 500 fastest growing companies in the world!
8. Post anything else career-related that comes to mind.
When it comes to a status update on LinkedIn, try not to stress about crafting the perfect one. The goal here is to keep your profile updated. It should only take you a minute to post a status update. On LinkedIn,Buffer calculates that a single status update will be shown to 20% of your followers. And when your status shows up, it includes:
- Your photo
- Your name
- Your title
- Your business
- The update itself
- Massive images
- Visible engagement metrics
Ensure that all of these components are accurate, professional-looking and up to date before posting. If you’re not sure that you want to post status updates, consider how it helps raise your visibility on LinkedIn. As of the second quarter of 2015, LinkedIn had 380 million members. Less than half of those users are considered active.
In addition to the 8 types of posts we recommended earlier, you can also:
- Encourage more engagement by tagging other people (friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc.) who might find what you’re posting particularly relevant.
- Post a longer status update (use the 600 characters you’re given).
Part 4: 3 Ways to Improve the Quality of your Properties
To avoid risk factors and improve positive factors online, you must build, optimize, maintain and monitor your web presence.
A. If you want to do it yourself, our Premium DIY tool makes it easier, faster and a lot more fun.
Our DIY tool walks you step by step through the process of building and updating these properties. As a premium member you also receive exclusive access to all of our BrandYourself University guides, which share even more insight into successfully managing your online reputation.
Our tool also flags risk factors so you can delete them, just follow the steps. It takes the legwork out of manually reviewing thousands of posts.
B. If you don’t want to do it yourself, we can do it for you with our Managed Services.
Connect with a Reputation Advisor who will help you choose the best service offering to address your specific needs.
Let us do the work for you, and give us a call at 646-863-8226 or schedule a consultation to discuss your options.
What you post has the power to lose or win new opportunities, it all depends on what you choose to share.
C. Do it completely on your own.
Feel free to create, optimize and update properties on your own. However, we urge you to look into how to optimize these for search engines, and stick to a regular schedule of updating your profiles according to best practices.