Do you have an unusual or uncommon first and/or last name that you’ve always disliked or even hated, especially when you were younger and endlessly teased about it?
These days you’re in luck.
In the digital age, because building an online presence is such an essential part of career and job search success, the more unusual your name, the more likely you are to stand out in search results for that name.
If you stand out, it’s easier for executive recruiters and hiring decision makers to find the information they need about you – to determine your good-fit qualities – and for social proof, to verify the claims you’ve made in your resume and other career documents.
Do this right now. Go to a new browser window and Google “your name”.
- How many of the results on page one lead to a web page associated with you?
- How many results are for someone else with your name?
- Are there so many others with your name that it’s hard to find anything about yourself?
Now, pretend you’re someone who has identified you as a potential candidate for a job at one of your target companies, and they’re Googling your name:
- Will they have a hard time distinguishing you from others with the same name?
- How many pages of search results do they have to go through to find anything about you?
- Will they mistake you for someone with the same name who has a less than stellar online presence?
Doesn’t it make sense to make it as easy as possible for these people to get to the information they seek about you? This, of course, assumes that you have some kind of online presence, because if you’re invisible online, or nearly invisible, they may rule you out entirely.
And, if there is someone out there who shares your name and has been involved in criminal or other objectionable activities, your own personal brand may be tarnished, and you may be overlooked.
In the new world of executive job search, having a strong online presence requires Personal SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – being ever mindful of the relevant keywords and phrases (typically your key areas of expertise, or hard skills) that people will plug into a search engine to find candidates like you, or to find out more about you, once you’ve been identified as a potential good-fit candidate.
Your name is also a key component in Personal SEO. It’s important to use your name in the same way across all online channels – and in your personal marketing materials (resume, biography, etc.) – so that you’re quickly and easily identifiable.
If variations of your name appear online, you need to do your best to clean up this aspect of your Personal SEO:
If you’ve recently changed your last name, include both the new and old name at least for a time, such as:
Susan (Walters) Steinberg
Be sure to also do this in the name field, at the top of your LinkedIn profile.
If you are known by both your nickname and given name, include both, such as:
Frederick (Fred) Walters
And again, be sure to also do this in the name field, at the top of your LinkedIn profile.
Misspellings or alternate spellings of your name
This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s a good idea to list at the bottom of your LinkedIn profile summary section common misspellings or alternate spellings of your name. A short entry like this should do the trick:
Alternate/misspellings of my name — Susie Steinberg, Susan Stineberg, Suzie Steinberg, Suzie Steinburg
Search engines will “see” the various spellings of your name and call up your LinkedIn profile, even if someone has Googled one of these misspellings or alternate spellings of your name.
How to distinguish your name from others with the same name:
- Add your middle initial – John G. Smith
- Add a professional acronym or short job title – John Smith, MBA – OR – John Smith, CFO
- Add either or both of the above to a new email address – email@example.com.
Get yourself set on stating your name in one way consistently. Be sure to make any of the above (or other) changes across all of your social media accounts and personal marketing materials – LinkedIn and other social networks, resume, other career documents, email signature, business/networking cards, etc.
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