March 13, 2014
"Employers are googling you," Director of Career Services Karen Veres told students at an Emerging Student Leaders Professional Series workshop. "In a 2010 survey, 79% of employers googled job seekers before inviting them for an interview. But less than half of the job seekers surveyed paid attention to their online presence."
Veres encouraged the students in attendance to find out what is associated with their names online by "defensive googling," which is Google-searching their own names and analyzing the results.
"Positive visibility is key. Pay attention to what is associated with your name online!" Veres stressed.
Employers are looking online for how prospective employees present themselves and facts that confirm their resumes. They are also on the lookout for resume inaccuracies or mistruths, inappropriate photos, drug or alcohol use, and badmouthing of former employers, Veres stated.
However, no news is not good news when it comes to online visibility. "Don't be invisible," she said. "If you have no online presence, it can give the impression that you are not visibly aware or not good with computers. The best place to begin creating a positive online presence is with LinkedIn."
LinkedIn is a professional social network that helps people make the most of their trusted connections. The network has more than 227 million members. Veres told students "it doesn't do the work for you, but helps you make connections and leverage those connections," before adding that "executives from all 2013 Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members."
Nina Rehrig, career development specialist, explained how Facebook and LinkedIn are different. "LinkedIn doesn't happen like Facebook. It takes time to build a profile and connect with people you know. With it you can build a digital footprint that can counter any negative things that might be out there about you. It's not a place for party photos or updates about your cat."
Rehrig demonstrated the basics of LinkedIn and went over its functionality, privacy settings, and explained how accounts are available in both free and paid versions. "There is so much you can do with a free account," she said, and that includes more than just looking through a list of job openings. A video played at the workshop showed how a student searched profiles of people who had the job she hoped to have one day to discover where they started their careers in order to find an internship.
"Now is a good time to start a LinkedIn profile," Rehrig said. "Did you start one and never finished it? Complete it! It shows an employer you follow through on things."
Membership in NCC's LinkedIn network is free and open only to NCC students, alumni, faculty, and staff.
"It's a great way to converse and connect with professors, staff, and fellow students," Rehrig explained. "Events, news, helpful messages, and information about events going on around the college are also shared here."
To join the Northampton Community College Professional Network, a LinkedIn user must have his or her NCC educational and/or work experience included in their profile to be accepted as a member.
Rehrig encouraged students who need assistance creating a LinkedIn profile to stop by Career Services.
"Your LinkedIn profile will be one of the first that rises to the top in Google searches," she said. "So take the time to do it right!"
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