Graham Jones is a Thought Leader on Internet Psychology and has extensive experience in helping businesses understand the behavior of their customers. To learn more about Graham, visit his website at www.grahamjones.co.uk.
When you apply for a job, one of the first things employers will do is look you up online. They'll Google you and see what they can find. A potential employer could be impressed by what they discover; on the other hand, they may get an instant negative impression of you, even if it isn't deserved.
You Will Be Googled
One of the first problems with someone Googling you is that they might find nothing. After all, if you don't have a website, you don't blog, and you don't have any social media profiles, then Google won't have a lot to go on. Your name will likely come up on phone or email directories such as Spokeo.com, but that's about it.
Although employers will take more into account than a Google search when selecting candidates, an individual's lack of an online presence can be off-putting. This is because a human instinct comes into play - risk aversion. We try to avoid all kinds of risks, and one way we do that is to accumulate as much information as possible about something - or, in this case, someone. An employer doesn't want to take the risk of giving the job to the wrong person, so they get as much information as possible about candidates. No online presence means that employer won't be able to get intel on you...and this could affect your chances of getting the job.
The More Information About You Online, the Better
If you prepare a report for your boss and it's five pages long, you wouldn't get the same reaction as you would if your report were 50 pages long. If your report makes a "thud" when it lands on your boss's desk, they think it must be good. The same effect on risk aversion happens online. When someone Googles you and they find only one or two small references, they're not as impressed as when they find link after link after link to your name. The more places you're visible online, the more you'll be able to instantly impress people - some of whom could be potential employers. Research about web users shows that they're disappointed when there is little information to be found, even though they find smaller amounts of information easier to handle.
Ensuring you have a solid online presence can increase the chances of a job
To attract employers, you need a "footprint" across the Internet. It means having a blog, for instance, that records your ideas, thoughts and notions related to the kind of work you do. Perhaps you even need your own website that's all about you and your work. Your aim is not to get thousands of visitors - merely to impress potential employers when they Google you.
However, they will also check you out on social networks. So make sure to have a positive presence on the main networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Plus, make sure you participate in any groups or forums related to your kind of work. Together with what potential employers gleam from a Google search, social media profiles provide a more complete picture of who you are and what you can do.
Remember, too, that we're in a digital age. These days, employers favor individuals who are well connected online and demonstrate they understand the influence of the web. Having an online footprint is a significant help in gaining employment.