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Use Google to Improve Your Chances of Getting a Job

Are you using Google in your job search? If not, you should be. In this career expert Q&A, AnnMarie McIlwain, Founder & CEO of, tells us how to use Google to find job openings, create a solid online presence, research the hiring company, and more. Google Alerts. What are they & how can use you them to your advantage in the job search? By setting up a Google Alert with your name, a job seeker can dynamically see what an employer can find when they do a search on you, the candidate. Whenever Google recognizes a new piece of content associated with your name like a blog, mention in an article, or even something with your name, but a different person, you can be on top of this information. Google Alerts about a company that you are interested in or an industry also allow you to be informed about the latest developments. That timely information can be used during an interview, for tweeting or to generate ideas for how to get the company’s attention.

Online presence can be a major factor in hiring decisions. What can job seekers do to make sure they are high up in search results? This is like the lottery where you have to play to win. If you want to be seen in a Google search, have a presence on LinkedIn and as many other social media platforms as possible. Keep in mind that Google assigns value to content. Among the best and most likely to be rated high in a search is a mention of you by an online news organization. This can be national, regional or local. If you are in high school or college, try and have an athletic, musical or educational achievement covered by the local press. Once working full time, become expert at something and publish articles or blogs related to this. Over time, the press may turn to you for material for their articles in which you will be credited. If you volunteer, suggest that the organization release pictures and posts about key events or milestones in which you contributed.

A job seeker Googles her own name and finds unflattering results (either hers or someone else’s with the same name). What can she do? The goal for the job seeker is to try and remove the information or get it pushed down in a search result—ideally off the first page. If the job seeker knows the creator of the material, they can ask to have the material removed/unpublished. A job seeker can also hire a company like to try and help. If the information is false, the job seeker can file a claim with Google to have it removed. In the situation where there is identity confusion, change your social media profiles to include a middle initial or full middle name to try and distance yourself from other people with the same name. If the site allows for tagging, use descriptors that tie specifically to you like cabinet installer, outdoor photographer, special education teacher.

How can you use search to learn more about companies that haven’t developed their own online presence? Even if the company has not created a website, you may be able to find information about someone in senior management. This would give you insight on their background and may yield articles where the manager discusses the company. Another approach would be to conduct a search about the competitors and see if they are talking about the company. Last, search your network to see if you can connect with someone who works for the company, or next door to the company or with a competitive company or is a customer of the company. Joe’s Plumbing Supplies might not have an online presence, but I would guess that many area plumbers and contractors are familiar with the shop and could make a qualified introduction.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about this topic? As a job seeker, you often have just a few seconds to capture a potential employer’s interest. A Google search of your name is like that “first impression” someone has after meeting you. It happens quickly and in the case of Google, it can be a “three second snapshot” of your professional credibility. Try and give an employer reasons to advocate for you internally by making the “cyber you” easy to find and appealing.

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