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Will you stand up to the Google test? - What employers want to see online

Posted: 22 October 2014

CV sifting and reference checks are all good and well but there's no substitute for real-time insight. When it comes to exploring potential candidates, employers are more hands-on and more investigatory than ever before. They are determined to see past what's on paper and delve into online platforms and communities.

Modern recruitment is about more than experience and qualifications. Employers get this and look to the social sphere or Google jungle to get to grips with who a candidate really is. It’s great for employers but it can be less than ideal for candidates who neglect their online presence and don’t exactly project professionalism. No employers wants to hop onto Facebook, LinkedIn or your own blog and see a corporate robot. They look for personality, passion and ultimately a good fit for their company.

So, what do employers look for? What do they expect from your online presence? What can you do to balance professionalism with personality? Well, think strategy and prioritise your personal brand.

The four Cs - The ingredients for a premier personal brand.

Culture fit.

Culture plays a massive part in recruitment decisions. Employers scour sites and social to assess whether they could work with you. They’re looking for indications that you share the same professional and personal values, so give them evidence.  Tell stories of your petition to introduce greener measures to your current office, or why not try to get your office to run a marathon for charity? These are things that determine a great culture fit.

  • Won awards? - Showcase them.
  • Ask you team leader for a testimonial - Get it out there.
  • Illustrate office incentives/culture - Post photos of ‘Ice cream Friday’ or even create a new culture-related day.
  • Have a skill that personifies your attitude to working culture? - If you’re a keen collaborator or skilled speaker, post a blog on ‘How to collaborate’ or put up a video of your latest speaking spot.


Nothing matters more. If you’re online presence doesn’t scream credibility, you’re in trouble.

There’s typical ways to present this credibility - a buzzing LinkedIn profile, solid references or testimonials galore. But there’s always less typical ways too, remember creativity is a biggie too.

  • Be an influencer - Thought-leadership is a big win. Employers want employees who are renowned thinkers with a solid reputation. Be a main feature in online discussions.
  • Be an expert social sharer - What you share says just as much about you as your own content. Be strategic in what you RT or Like, and encourage big players to share your content too. Employers will be very impressed if an industry giant rates you.
  • Personal credibility is just as valuable as professional - If you’re a budding writer or volunteer outside of work, employers can gauge that you’re talented and committed. 

As a precautionary measure, be sure to remove unused/empty platforms. An empty or neglected feed is a personal brand no-no. Be vigilant in keeping your profiles healthy.


It’s a big box that employers like to tick. Illustrating flair and creative talent is an asset so many employers actively search for examples of this. Showcase this skill in innovative ways and you’ll get noticed for sure.

  • Got an online portfolio? - If not, create one. Your CV or LinkedIn has the essential info but give employers a lead to follow, an interactive and engaging way to connect with your work and talent.
  • Blog - Linking in with thought-leadership, blogs are great for illustrating active presence and keeping employers updated on your recent triumphs. If you start one be sure to keep it running.
  • Start a new venture - Whether it’s a code group or creative collective, try to create something that shows employers that you’re a creative at heart with a passion. It’ll intrigue and give them something to ask you about at the interview stages.


Employers like to get to know the ‘real you’. They want to peek behind the professionalism and get an idea of your personality and ability to communicate with others. If you’ve got a personal profile on FB or even Twitter, keep it clean. Nothing turns employers off like swearing and beer pong adventures.

This doesn’t mean you remove all semblance of self, just be wise to how this content is interpreted.

  • Headshots - Have a recent profile picture so they can put a face to the familiar name.
  • Create keyword bios - Add bios to Twitter and LinkedIn that mention your role, industry and a small hint of personality.
  • Use your social channels creatively - Use the like of Instagram, Vimeo or Vine. Mix up your medias and platforms to show that you’re a modern candidate with a good understanding of content and tech.
  • Post personal - There’s a balance to be found here. By all means feature photos from a recent volunteering event or work do but try to leave rant-filled monologues out of it. Bad attitudes and moaning don’t set the best precedent.

Google yourself, what do you see? There will be gaps and the odd overlap but your online presence should reflect hireability and likeability. Get a friend or industry pro to assess it and give feedback. Curation is key in maintaining this presence. People peruse your image or online legacy everyday so make sure it’s always in a fit state and wholly relevant.

Managing digital relationships is imperative too, you want employers to grace your profile and be wowed by recommendations and tight links with peers and influencers. Yes this takes time but it’s effectively professional advertising - less Farmville updates, more bowling over!

Do you like this stuff? Then join over 19,000 other awesome people who get tips on improving their employer brand, recruitment and marketing delivered directly to their inbox from me!

Twitter snippets.

  • (Tweet This) Employers are determined to see past what’s on paper and delve into online platforms and communities.
  • (Tweet This) If your online presence doesn’t scream credibility, you’re in trouble.
  • (Tweet This) Illustrating flair and creative talent is an asset so employers actively search for this.
  • (Tweet This) Your online presence should reflect hireability and likeability.