Want that tech job? Dominate Your SERP.

As a developer, you probably love the interwebs, but I hope you recognize that recruiters are increasingly using it as a tool. A tool to determine if you are a right fit for their company. Some recruiters admit your resume is just one data point. It is becoming more of a practice to search candidates online. Why? They are looking at personality, are you who you say you are? Will you represent the brand? Work well with the other team members? Do you fit the culture? Will you be a brand advocate? All of these items are increasingly important. But most importantly, it is a quick way to see if there are any crazy red flags.

Should you worry about that picture you took in college? Ehhh depending on the company. Some HR specialists claim it is decreasingly less important. Why? Everyone has a past. People are posting so much now, do they really want to spend the time to go down that rabbit hole? Should you try to be semi-presentable? Yes. But, while working on your Klout, you should dominate your SERP too.

As monster.com reports, “A 2006 survey of 100 executive recruiters by job search and recruiting network ExecuNet found that 77 percent use search engines to learn about candidates. Of those researching candidates online, 35 percent eliminated a candidate from consideration based on information they uncovered online — up from 26 percent in 2005. ExecuNet predicts that the number of job seekers prejudged or eliminated due to this “digital dirt” will climb.”

What is SERP?

SERP means Search Engine Results page.  It’s the listings you see on Google or Bing when doing keyword research. It is a powerful, powerful tool. We all know that. But, you need to own it. Why? Because today, you are your brand.

I’m not a businessman; I’m a business, man! – Jay-Z

In the internet era, we are all famous, and the Google paparazzi is trying to document our next move. We need to start taking lessons from celebrities. We are our brand and it is becoming increasingly important to monitor your brand.

In incognito mode, if I search my name what comes up? Why should I care? Because, if recruiters are looking than it better be presentable. In incognito search your name, for example “First Name + Last Name + Location”. Or “First Name + Last Name + Current Company”. Think of different ways someone might find you online. What do you see? Is it good or bad?

Which leads to the question, “How do you own your SERP?”

The basic answer, be active, be a good person, be noteworthy, and contribute. I know that answer is pretty vague. If you are an SEO master you know what to do. For the rest of us, here are three methods that will hopefully help.

Contribute to Open Source

Find an open source group and help. Be it WordPress, a GitHub Repo, StackOverflow, find an community and start contributing. Often these profile links will show up on a SERP. Which is really really good. Why? Because contributing to open source enhances lots of great skills that companies are looking for in their candidates. But here is the kicker, your name full needs to be your profile OR your name needs to be in the profile signature.

AGAIN, you need your name someplace in the public profile. Why? Because the magic Google machine needs to know.

Not only could it help out when searching for your name it also has wonderful advantages for your personal growth. I would recommend contributing to open source communities revolving around the profession you want. Meaning, if I want to be a front end developer, writing some cool codepens or helping some JS libraries might be beneficial. If I want to be a WordPress developer, maybe you should spend some time helping out people on WordPress.org? I don’t think this is too crazy, others seem to agree:

For developers, juniors in particular, contributing to open source can give you the edge you need to land that first job. Why? again it will help you refine skills that are valuable to companies. Here are some potential benefits:

Forums – Dedicating time to an online forum shows that you care about people, are patient, and dedicated. It displays that you can communicate effectively online. Finally, that you know how to problem solve and troubleshoot dirty code. These are great qualities for remote work and online support teams.

Open Source projects found on GitHub – Spending time committing to a repo usually drastically increases your coding abilities. Why? You are under the scrutiny of others. It forces you to have very clean and well documented code. At the very least, these contributions display you know how to use git.

Another major component we need to remember is that the Internet is increasing becoming dependant on open source projects. Smart companies know that the survival of their company is also dependant on the health of these projects. Could you imagine how many dev shops would be in trouble if NPM, Linux, or WordPress decided to shut down tomorrow? Eeeeep…

As Bet Hannon elegantly puts:

Don’t be a leech, contribute to something.

Lead a local Meet-up or Talk at One

Meetup.com has some decent ranking and can show up when Googling your name.  I recommend finding a local meet-up you like. Something you are interested in or have expertise. Start a meet-up, attend one, and if you can guest speak at a few.

Why is this good? Again, it shows you care about a community and culture, you have knowledge in a field, you like trying new things, and that you might be somewhat social.

Write Articles

Again, contribute. Find a site that you enjoy that allows guest posting. Contribute. Write about items that matter to you. Contribute, contribute, contribute. But do it on an external site. Why from a site other than your own? Because generally Google will only show a few listings per source (unless you conduct a site: search). Meaning, not all of the listings will come from “yournamehere.com”. Having content with your name on it from another source is good, also good for SEO.

Bonus: Have a Personal Website

This one seems a bit obvious but I wanted to throw it in there. Have a personal website, if the domain name isn’t your name. Make sure your name appears on your about or contact pages. These pages should also have your name in the title tag.