Prior to even the initial interview, whether it is an in-person or phone interview, nearly every HR representative or hiring manager what I know does a basic Google search on the majority of candidates of interest. This makes perfect sense.
For the most part, the hiring manager or HR rep wants to see what you look like, what your interests are, how your writing skills are, what you are connected with and other tidbits that they want to know.
As a matter of fact, there are now companies that have formulated software specifically designed to seamlessly inform potential employers, especially – who, what, where, when and how. These firms are regulated by the US government, but to such a loose amount that the regulations are pretty much a joke. For any interview, go in with the presumption that your online activities are going to be checked by everyone and anyone.
Strong Warning About Syndication and Improper Content:
Web syndication happens and it happens often. Write an interesting article and websites all over the world will syndicate it. If it is not professional or conducive to marketing yourself in a positive light, you are in for some trouble. Sometimes, it will get to the point where you have to pay a lot of money to professional companies to have these taken down. You can always appeal the matter to Google, but this can take months and their course of action is typically a lot slower.
Here are some perfect and not so perfect ways to properly market yourself through your actions and writings on the web:
Positive Marketing :
Positive: Writing interesting articles about your field via various Ezine sites. When you write for these sites, your published articles are the first to come up via a Google search. The reason is for this is that Google holds a lot of weight to professional submission sites. Therefore, doing so, essentially will help you move any unwanted content to the 3rd or 4th page of Google.
Positive: Having clean-cut pictures of you on the web where you are smiling.
Positive : Joining professional blogs such as Charlie Rose, Business Week and others.
Positive: Doing volunteer work and being an official member of the organization, then getting on the website and, typically having Google index your name.
Positive: Proofreading everything you write.
Positive: Keeping most correspondence factual and not too biased. Everyone has their opinions and they do not need to hear yours, especially in the office.
Negative Marketing :
Negative: Including bad pictures of yourself on any format including social media or putting up pictures with a group of friends in a party atmosphere. By doing this, you are marketing yourself as someone who waits all day to hit the bars at 5:30. While this rule does not apply to most executive level job seekers, believe it or not, it applies to some.
Negative : Quit chatting on Linked-In, Facebook, etc. every 5 minutes. Doing this markets you to the public as someone who has nothing else better to do. Also, the comments get emailed to too many people too many times and you appear lazy as this time should be sent searching for a job. Hint: blogging is not a way to search. The same goes for any other social media platforms. Keep the blogging to 2 – 3 times per week.
Negative : Maintaining a blog that expresses personal opinions and discusses your social life including dating, drinking, money and just about anything else you would not want an employer to see. Remember, the responses to your posts, although done by other people, can reflect poorly on you.
Negative: No negativity. Do not complain about your current employment situation or any other facet of your life. You may not know it, but this markets you as someone who does not have enough self-reliance to take care of any problems that you may have both professionally and personally.
Negative: Discussing politics online. You do not want anyone to brand you as either a Republican or Democrat. This is best kept off of the web. If there's related information currently floating around the web, begin taking it off.