Chris Bigelow

Disparate thoughts and musings…

Have you Googled yourself lately?

When my position was eliminated in February I Googled myself, because outplacement firms and career counselors all say that you want to know what references are on the web about yourself.  Fair enough.  There are two reasons for this (and, no, narcissism is not one of them): one, you want to be sure there is no negative or erroneous information posted about yourself and, two, you want to be “findable” (via positive references).

I was dismayed when I had to wade though the first six to eight pages of Google results before finding any reference to myself.  I think that singular reference was to my LinkedIn profile, as that was about my only web presence at the time.

In the wake of this realization I set out to raise my internet profile and make myself “findable” on Google.  My goal was to show up in the first page or two when someone searched for “Chris Bigelow”.  How did I go about doing this?  I started learning about Social Media and:

I also made it a point to cross reference all of my sites to each other using links.

How did it work out?  Well, I just now Googled “Chris Bigelow” and found my blog (fifth and sixth entries) and Google profile (“eleventh” entry/footer) on the first page of the search results.  On the second page I found my Twitter account (second entry) and a directory of all “Chris Bigelows” on LinkedIn (fifth entry) where, incidentally, I show up as the second directory entry.  That’s five times in the first two pages of results. Much better than my previous showing.

“Fine,” you say.  “So where is this all going?”  Over the course of my job search I have been contacted by numerous recruiters (both internal and external).  They have found me in a variety of ways on line: LinkedIn, Monster, Lynxster and CareerBuilder.

Last week, though, I experienced a first when I was contacted by a corporate recruiter who found me via Google.  And not by searching for “Chris Bigelow”, which was my original expectation behind increasing my web presence.  This recruiter found me by submitting a Boolean search string of attributes desired for a specific open position at that company.  I have to admit that it had never occurred to me that I could be found that way.  Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised.  Later that evening, as a test, I entered the Boolean search string “engineer AND lean AND ‘powder coat’” into Google and didn’t I show up as the second and sixth entries on the first page of results.  Wow!  Powerful stuff.  The next day I was discussing this incident with a friend who is an independent recruiter and he said that the best, cutting-edge recruiters are now employing this technique.

In the fourteen years I spent at my last employer, the internet went from nascency to ubiquity and job search has changed dramatically because of it.

Have you Googled yourself lately?

Google Boolean search

Addendum, 28 August: This post has received a lot of comments, mostly on the LinkedIn groups where I posted a link to it.  While the feedback has been generally positive, I have had some cautionary feedback as well which I want to share.

As is true anywhere on the internet, you need to exercise caution when sharing personal information.  Since this runs counter to the whole concept of social media it creates an extremely delicate balancing act.  Making too much information public places you at an increased risk of ID theft, common burglary, and more; making too little information available reduces a potential employer’s ability to find you.

While the choice of how much information to share is strictly a personal one, I recommend that you do not share your home address or phone number.  You might take this a step further and list your location as simply the nearest metro area.  At the risk of stating the obvious, certainly don’t share your date of birth or social security number.  And by all means, don’t broadcast travel plans (“Hello – Mr. Burglar?  We’ll be in Cancun the week of January 7th…”).

Best of luck raising your visibility, but remember to be safe.

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15 Comments»

  Chris Bigelow wrote @

Hey, distant cousin, you come up more and more regularly on my Google Alert I have set for myself.

  Karl Heinz Kremer wrote @

Congrats to your DIY SEO results. That’s what it’s all about: You need to get your information out so that people can find you. The way I see it, you need to cover two different strategies (and you’ve described both of them):
You need to be “findable” when people search for a certain skill set so that a recruiter can discover you as one of the perfect candidates for a job, but you also need to have enough good information out there so that if somebody does an online background check on you, they will feel comfortable enough to talk to you.

  Charlie Accetta wrote @

Chris – great post. I Google myself all the time, but it’s more out of narcissism than self-promotion. Unlike you, I’m the holder of a rather ubiquitous handle. There was a Charles Accetta down in Florida, around my age, but he died of a heart attack earlier in the year. It was weird reading his obituary. He was well-loved and respected, sort of an anti-me. There’s also a Charles Accetta in the Philadelphia area, but at last birthday candle count he was approaching three figures. So, I have a clear field…Page 1 every time.

  markpollitt wrote @

Chris – Great information that you made extremely easy to digest! Definately sharing this with my colleagues. Thanks

  Doug Hatch wrote @

Hi Chris,
Good going on the SEO work. Another tool that I have found works with very minimal effort on my part is the soc. networking site Naymz.com I’ll send you an invite from there. I joined the premium service 9.99/ mo. and they do a great job on raising my results. GOOD LUCK!
-Doug

  Karl Wolfe wrote @

Hi Chris,
Great information! I had heard some of this before but no one had mentioned using the Google profile. Also first I heard of someone googling ‘skills’ to find someone – I had heard of this type of search within LinkedIn.

There is a website you can use for helping with determining your “Google Quotient” or how relevant searches are for you: Online Identity Calculator
http://www.onlineidcalculator.com/index.php

Hope you find this information useful.

  Dara Grieger wrote @

Hi Chris,

Good post! My unusual name gives me an advantage here. I’ve appeared on top of Google for several years, mostly due to my name being on academic projects. I Googled myself again after reading your post. Now that I’m active in social media, I pop up a lot more by my name. But I don’t appear when I search for attributes that I’d like to be associated with. So now I need to give more thought to working on that area.

Dara

  Michele Heine wrote @

Chris,

Nice relevant post for us fellow job seekers. Thanks for bringing this topic to better light. My name is not as popular as yours so I get 8 hits in the first two pages. What’s interesting to me is my LInkedIn profile doesn’t show up in those first 2 pages, or even in the first 8 pages. I found it shows up in some places I wasn’t expecting, actually pretty far up in the search results. My name shows up in meeting minutes as an attendee for a PTO meeting, as a donore to a non-profit in their annual report (I only gave $10). Anyone want to help me figure out why my LinkedIn profile doesn’t show up, even when I search “michele heine linkedin”?
Michele

  Deb Mills wrote @

Aloha,
I have found this post to be quite helpful in summing up all the in’s and out’s of having an on-line presence. I have been working at just that, and as I get more into this concept, it really starts making all the loose ends “come together”.

I may not be within the first couple of pages when I “Google” my name, but these things take time and work, to make a “good impression”. It always amazes me how technology and your interactions within it have an outcome that can be quite intriguing.

  Chris Bigelow wrote @

Mahalo nui loa – best of luck in raising your own “findability.” Since this post another site that has been recommended to me for boosting your search engine rankings is Naymz. I’ve registered there but am still learning it.

  Deb Mills wrote @

Thanks for sharing the info, I will take a look. Because knowledge is the power to keep blogging.

Despite what others may say or feel!!
Have a great week Chris!

Deb

  Jan Gay wrote @

Alas,with my surname, Googling myself would lead to many many MANY very long talks with IT as well as HR. A great tool, but an have some bad side effects.

A great idea for those with more socially acceptable nomens.

  Sam Diener wrote @

Chris – EXCELLENT post. Very very good.
I can’t recommend enough, proper profile management in a job search.

There is also a heavy value being number 1 when you are searched for. Took me a few weeks, but I did it. Knocked out a blogger who had 90 times as many posts on the internet as I did.

In any case, I am not here to brag. Moreso, I think we should team up. Let’s write a co-post on SEO…. how much do you know? Drop me a line.

Sam Diener
http://www.samdiener.com

  Jan Thomas wrote @

I have been working on this for more than a year and have been frustrated ~ but finally accepted ~ that I will probably never come up on a front page on a name-only search. Apparently my name is shared by a leading mathematician in Australia and an author, both of whom dominate.

My work-around is based on the assumption that, if a prospective employer (or other promising person) Googles me, they will immediately see the same problem and POSSIBLY amend the search to include one of my key professional words, such as “communications.” When such a qualifier is added, I do tend to come up ~ my blog, my LinkedIn profile and even I Google profile I didn’t even know existed (and have reworked since I found it).

it is indeed a challenge if you have a common name ~ But I love a good problem-solving challenge!

  Chris Bigelow wrote @

My name is surprisingly common as well. I’ve been able to move from relative obscurity to 3 citations on each of the first two pages of Google since February. Keep plugging away. Make sure you cross reference all of your sites to each other with links. Best of luck!


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