Googled yourself recently? Like what you found?

Googled yourself recently? Like what you found?

I caught a television news interview with an anti-doping expert this week and, whilst her words and delivery were convincing, my attention strayed to the background behind her. I got the impression she was filming herself from her own computer, sat at her desk with a home office set-up visible in the background.

Like many home offices, shelving dominated, packed with files, books, and other paraphernalia that gets called upon in the course of day-to-day work. I could make out the titles of several books that corroborated her title and stance – books on sports and how they were governed. She wasn’t focusing on what was behind her but, nevertheless, this lady’s physical background gave depth to her interview and played a role in increasing her credibility.

Her physical background had me convinced, however, if I’d remembered her name and Googled her, I’m sure I’d be rewarded with countless matches – from her organisation, from LinkedIn, from industry events, interviews, and more.

It got me thinking about the ‘background’ candidates consciously and inadvertently present online, and how it affects their employability.

The purpose of a background search of any kind is to discover more about an individual. Today, a simple Google search on a specific candidate can throw up a tonne of relevant information or nothing at all. Both of these scenarios can lead recruiters and hiring managers to draw their own conclusions.

A positive background search will enable the searcher to verify information they already hold, so that they can be positive you are who you say you are. It should also allow them to uncover additional evidence of your skills, experience, and potential, thus building your case for employment.

An unsuccessful background search will leave the searcher scratching their head, unable to verify the stated facts presented on your CV. They may even struggle to find you online at all, leaving them wondering about your lack of profile.

CareerBuilder’s 2015 social media recruitment survey found that 51% of hiring managers use search engines to research candidates and more than a third (35%) of employers are less likely to interview candidates they can’t find online. Once found, employers aren’t necessarily looking for information to rule you out, as six in 10 surveyed are “looking for information that supports their qualifications for the job” and 32% of those surveyed found information which supported the candidate’s application.

So, how should you take charge of your personal search results and ensure that the returns play out in your favour? Here are five areas of digital turf you can confidently ring-fence for your job search:

#1 LinkedIn

Technically, this could be combined with point #2, yet LinkedIn is so important, I felt it deserved its own section. LinkedIn often dominates search results for individual names, so maintaining a LinkedIn profile that is clearly about you is essential to return a positive match.

First of all, make sure you have a LinkedIn profile, then check that your name, headline, photo, and industry details are clearly about you, rather than a namesake.

Next, check that your LinkedIn profile is complete, verifying and enhancing the information already presented on your CV. If you are confident in displaying a comprehensive profile to a broad professional network, this can reassure the searcher, convincing them of your sincerity and reputation. LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements will also enhance your standing.

To provide deeper insight, consider using LinkedIn’s publishing feature, showcasing a video or interview on your profile, or engaging in LinkedIn groups.

#2 Social Media

Do each and every one of your social bios reflect your professional offering and status, as outlined on your CV?

Are you tweeting about the latest industry news, sharing tips or photos from industry events, or interacting with individuals and organisations with the same professional interests?

Are you showcasing your visual portfolio on Pinterest or Instagram, or involved in relevant Twitter chats and communities on Google+? Are you sharing relevant video tips or insights on YouTube?

Social media timelines offer a real-time insight into your interests and activities, highlighting your thoughts and focus right now. This is invaluable for recruiters and would-be employers hoping to discover more of the real you.

If a search only throws up unconnected social chatter, it won’t support your professional profile, and may even put your reputation at risk. Double check purely social profiles are kept private, and that public profiles reflect your professional goals.

#3 Blog or Personal Website

Perhaps you blog or have a personal website. If so, check it’s up to date and reflects your current professional interests and aspirations. If you don’t have a dedicated site on which to share your professional musings, consider using LinkedIn Publisher as a platform.

#4 Organisational Profiles

Your current organisation may feature your bio on their website, and this can be telling in more ways than one. If it doesn’t reflect your here and now, consider a refresh to make sure it does. Earlier this year, I read a jokey bio that had the potential to disrupt the candidate’s job search. Luckily we located and addressed it before her job search got properly underway.

#5 Industry Events

If you’ve been invited to speak at an industry event, your bio may feature on the event website, so make sure it reflects your main messages and the professional strengths you want to promote. Even if you haven’t been invited to present, you can engage on event forums or share event highlights on your social profiles, linking yourself as someone interested in lifelong learning and development.

Is it time to CTRL ALT DEL your career?

Is it time to CTRL ALT DEL your career?

When you CTRL ALT DEL your computer, it’s usually because something just isn’t working and you need to shut down the offending task so that you can get back to business as usual.

Do you ever wish you could CTRL ALT DEL your career? You’re not alone. Sometimes we hit a point where we feel frozen – the human equivalent of ‘Not responding’ – or a particular aspect of our job stops running smoothly. If your career is suddenly at a standstill or you want to find a direction that’s a better fit, then it’s time to press CTRL ALT DEL and reboot your professional operating system.

Reboot or reset

If you’ve ever called a PC helpline or spoken to someone techy about your computer problems, the first question they’ll ask is ‘Have you rebooted your PC?’ It’s amazing how many idiosyncrasies and niggling problems can be sorted out just by switching a computer off and then turning it back on again.

In many ways, we humans are the same. We get overloaded with information and data, processing everything until we feel overwhelmed. Sometimes, we need to switch off and reset too.

Before you begin your job search, it’s important to take a step back. Book some time off work if you can, switch off from the stress of projects and deadlines for a while. Then, away from the hustle and bustle of the office, earmark some time to think about your current job.

How do you feel about it when you’ve had some downtime? Are there aspects of your job that you could change or improve without needing to leave? Is there someone at work that you can talk to about how you feel? Do you have a sinking heart feeling about going back to work or does it still make you feel challenged and excited once you’ve had the opportunity to reboot?

Identify the problem

If you’re reading this article, the chances are that you feel the time has come to move on to pastures new. Before you start your job search, it’s important to identify what isn’t working for you in your current role, as well as what’s working well, because that will help to define the deal breakers when applying for any future position.

What do you like about your current job and what gets you down? What are you looking for in your next job? Do you want a similar role, more responsibility, or do you want to move into a different role or industry, capitalising on your transferable skills?

By assessing what works for you and what doesn’t – a bit like running a scan to pinpoint the problems – you can come up with a plan of action for your job search.

Defrag your CV

Your next step is to dig out your CV. When was the last time you refreshed it? Does it include your latest skills, experience, and achievements?

As well as updating the information included in your CV, it’s also important to check it over for flabby bits that need trimming. Are there sections that would flow more smoothly if they were pulled together? Is there duplicate information? Are you wasting valuable space with unnecessary information such as ‘References available on request’ or too much detail about irrelevant hobbies? Now is the time to make sure all your information is in the right place.

Although you can create a generic CV as a starting point, it’s important to adapt it to complement the job for which you’re applying. Reflect the language used in the job description and show how you fulfil the essential and desirable attributes of the ideal candidate.


Is there anything blocking you from the next step in your career? Perhaps not having a particular skillset or a lack of experience in a specific area is making you feel like there’s a firewall preventing you from accessing your dream job?

If so, now might be the time for an upgrade. Is there training you can take to improve your management skills? Would working with a mentor help you tackle the challenges of a leadership role? Do you need to learn new computer skills or get more hands-on experience?

If you don’t have the time or resources to upgrade, don’t panic! There may be a workaround. You can still be a successful applicant by demonstrating how you’ve been able to learn a similar computer program quickly, or that you have the transferable skills that will enable you to succeed in your new role. You can use your CV to show how you’ve risen to challenges in the past, or how you’ve grabbed every opportunity to learn and grow in your career.

Call an expert

Sometimes pressing CTRL ALT DEL is just the start and even after a reboot, refresh, or defrag, you need to call in a professional.

Having an expert review your CV may make all the difference to getting your career and job search unfrozen and back on track. A professional CV writer will be able to look at your career history objectively, highlighting your achievements and reframing skills you take for granted so that they leap off the page to prospective employers.

A professional eye can be a great time saver too. Instead of you spending hours trying to make your CV work, an expert CV writer knows what works and what doesn’t and can give your CV that all-important refresh in half the time.

If you think your CV would benefit from an expert eye, why not try our free CV review service for starters?

Building a successful job seeking campaign

Building a successful job seeking campaign

This week, I’m pleased to introduce a guest blog by Ashleigh Harman at Portfolio Payroll, a recruitment agency who specialise in recruiting qualified professionals into the payroll industry.

Portfolio Payroll have put together some tips on how to build a successful job seeking campaign around your CV, in order to help you land your dream role.

Building a successful job seeking campaign

It is important to approach your job seeking efforts in the same way you would a marketing campaign for a brand. Here you should think of yourself as the product and your CV is the vital document explaining the qualities and benefits of the product or service. Like any marketing campaign, content which is influenced by the product should then be created and used to leverage existing contacts as well as attract new ones.

Follow the below tips to building a job seeking campaign that allows you to portray your personal brand using stand-out content.

How important is my digital persona?

A survey by ExecuNet recently revealed that over 77% of recruiters use search engines to research candidates. Whilst this can seem daunting it actually provides job seekers with a perfect opportunity to tell potential employers a little more about themselves.

Whilst you are putting efforts into building a positive and professional online profile, it is vital to ensure that existing online content baring your name is appropriate to be seen by prospective employers. Ensure that you have set the appropriate social profiles to private and any content including blog posts, pictures and videos that may not be appropriate have been removed.

Creating an online profile

Creating an online profile does not have to be difficult; you could start by creating a simple website that enhances the information on your CV. Let recruiters and potential employers find out more about you as an employee by providing references and examples of your work alongside details of your qualifications and past experience.

Although job advertisements highlight the required skills and experience a role requires, employers are also looking for a personality that is the right fit for their company.

Starting a blog is a brilliant way to give your online profile a personal voice. Getting your blog started on a dedicated blogging platform can be a simple half an hour task. Professional bloggers recommend writing and sharing at least one high quality post a week, choosing topics and news stories specific to your industry. Blogging allows you to take an active role in commenting on the industry thus proving your knowledge of working practises and your dedication to your career.

Approaching employers

When you have your heart set on working for a particular company, applying for a vacancy can be incredibly nerve wracking. However, by taking a few simple steps, you can ensure that particular employers already know your name.

Build a working knowledge of the way different companies operate – this will help you formulate an appropriate approach for contacting individual businesses when looking for an available position.

Send a hard copy of your CV to the company you wish to work for – include a cover letter explaining what it is you admire about their company and why you wish to work for them. Remember, companies enjoy flattery as much as people do.

Follow the company on social media- this will allow you to keep up to date with what they are doing.

Occasionally like, comment or share their posts – this will help your name to be remembered around the office, so when you make your application to a vacancy they can see that you already have an active interest in the company.

Utilising social media

LinkedIn should by now play a vital role in your job seeking campaign. This tool is used prolifically by recruiters and is a popular option for employers looking to find out more about candidates. To ensure you are fully utilising your LinkedIn profile follow the below steps.

Fill in all vital information in your profile, this is a perfect opportunity to expand on the information on your CV.

Upload examples of your work to complement your experience and prove your skills.

Ask past employers and people that you have worked with to leave recommendations and endorsements on your profile.

The importance of building a professional profile

Creating an engaging and informative CV will always be the most important part of any job seeking campaign, as it is not only a standard format across industries but it is but is also the best way for you to quickly communicate your skills and experience. However, with such high competition for job vacancies, building a professional public profile online has become an increasingly important component to the job hunt.

Building a profile and feeding it into your job seeking campaign will not only demonstrate to prospective employers that you are capable of completing a range of the tasks detailed on your CV, but it will also provide the employer with a better understanding of your personality and how you would fit into and benefit their business.


Ashleigh Harman is a Digital Content Writer for Portfolio Payroll, a recruitment agency who specialise in recruiting qualified professionals into the payroll industry. 

Read all about it! Newspapers and their role in your job search

Read all about it! Newspapers and their role in your job search

Back in July, house renovators and sometimes archaeologists, Moltus Investments, unearthed a copy of The Daily Telegraph dated Wednesday 10th August 1960 from a property in which they were working. When they posted the pictures on Facebook, it was the job advertisements that caught my eye. Talk about how life, and the job search, has changed!

What immediately grabbed my attention was how many of the job advertisements specify the gender and age of desired applicants. The Lockheed Hydraulic Brake Company invites applications from ‘men aged 28 to 35’ for the role of Employment Officer; Richard Thomas & Baldwins Limited wants to hear from candidates, aged 30 to 45, while the Technical Librarian role with the Plessey Company Limited is specifically open to a ‘lady with considerable technical experience….’ as ‘the post calls for a lady of mature years’.

Interestingly, it was during the 1960s that the winds of change began to blow, focusing on discrimination on the grounds of age and gender, particularly in the workplace. Women were fighting for their reproductive and employment rights; the pill became widely available, enabling them to delay starting a family, and more and more women took up the cause, arguing that jobs targeted at male candidates should be open to them too. The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970 and the Sex Discrimination Act was passed later in 1975.

What I also notice when reading these 1960s job ads is how vague the descriptions are. Check out the Underwood Business Machines Limited ad as a perfect example: “Men with evidence of will and ability to succeed are invited to apply”. In many cases, the description focuses on the company and its services, rather than the attributes of the ideal candidate.

In most of the advertisements, the selection criteria is exceptionally broad. This is perhaps because many people applied for jobs based on their proximity to home, salary and hours. Back in the 1960s, the concept of ‘a job for life’ was commonplace. If someone was educated and experienced in a particular field, they were unlikely to look at sideways moves into related fields or how they could take their transferable skills into a completely new career.

Newspapers and job hunting before the internet

After seeing these ads, I had a chat with my lovely dad about what he remembers from his early job hunting days. He tells me that job hunters’ first port of call would be the local library to read the daily newspapers. Apparently, people would tear out job descriptions that caught their attention to cut the chances of other job seekers seeing the ad and improve their own chances of getting hired.

Job hunting pre-Internet was all about scouring the newspapers, knocking on doors, enquiring about ‘Help wanted’ signs, and weekly perusal of the local unemployment office listings.

As the digital internet as we know it didn’t become widely used until the mid-1990s, most people over the age of 35 will have found their first job in the local paper, on an index card in a shop window, or through word of mouth recommendations.

Once we found a suitable role in the newspaper, we would send off a postcard for an application form or painstakingly type out our CV and covering letter on good quality paper, possibly back at the public library if we didn’t have a typewriter at home.

These days, the tactics have changed but the strategy hasn’t. Getting hired is still about standing out from the crowd and making a good first impression.

The role of newspapers in today’s job search

Newspapers are still an integral part of the job search process, although, like the rest of us, they’ve had to step up their game because of the internet. Job listings through newspapers now exist in the competitive online job board market but may well still be your first port of call.

Have you looked at the following sites recently?

Guardian Jobs – a great place to look for careers in the Arts, public sector, third sector, education, and for graduate positions

The Telegraph Jobs – as in the 1960s, this is still largely populated by engineering, construction, technology, sales, and executive roles

The Times Jobs – includes roles in Education, Finance, IT, Legal, Marketing, Public Sector, and Secretarial, as well as graduate positions

TES Connect – for educational and teaching jobs

The Independent Jobs – features jobs in the Technology, Finance, and Hospitality, as well as graduate positions and London-based vacancies

For many people, these are a mainstay of their job hunting experience.

If you’re looking for local opportunities, it’s a good idea to head to your local paper’s website where they are likely to have a jobs board. Check out Kent Messenger’s Kent Jobs website or the Nottingham Evening Post jobs page for examples of local newspaper online job ads – there’s bound to be a similar local site in your area; just search for your favourite local newspaper.

No, you can’t tear the job ad out of the paper anymore to stop other library-bound jobseekers from applying too but newspaper job sites do what they can to take the stress out of the application process. Like other job boards, they generally enable you to apply for the job there and then, email it to an interested friend, connect with the company on social media, and even give you some basic CV advice.

Do you use newspaper sites when you’re job hunting? How did you find your first job? If you were old enough to be job hunting pre-internet, do you remember scouring ads in your local paper? I’d love to hear your experiences.


Why you ABSOLUTELY need to track your job search

Why you ABSOLUTELY need to track your job search

Imagine the scenario.  A few weeks into your job search, your mobile rings when you are not expecting a call.

track your job search

At this point you are likely to feel very excited that your application has actually been seen and enticed a real person to call you up.  However, you’ve applied for so many similar roles that you are not actually sure which job they are referring to.  Caught off guard, you are suddenly very much on the back foot.

You haven’t tracked your applications in a clear way, and are flummoxed as to which opportunity this exciting call actually relates to.  Although you are determined to blag it, you are painfully aware that being caught on the hop means that you are not presenting the calm and professional image that you had aspired to deliver.

This is why using a job search tracking system is essential to manage your job search, enabling you to keep a handle on pending applications and ensure a professional response each and every time.

Here are four key benefits of tracking your job search:

It allows you to keep a firm grasp on which jobs you have applied for (so you know the status of each application and are well-prepared for the recruiter’s call)

It gives you a clear oversight of which version of your CV you have presented for each job opportunity (handy for the interview if you are offered one!)

It enables you to track what is working versus what is NOT working in terms of your job search activities (allowing you to refocus and refine your efforts)

It ensures that you don’t apply for a job more than once (saving your blushes, your precious time and that of the recruiter)

What elements of your job search should you track?

Job site details:

Name and website address of the job sites you are using

Your registration details including user name and password (keep these secure either by password-protecting your document or keeping physical files under lock and key)

Details of services signed up for on each site

Jobs applications:

Position title, employer name and reference number of any jobs applied for

Through which job site or other medium (employer website, careers fair, referral from an existing employee, recruitment agency etc.)

Date the application was submitted

Copies of the job advert, job description, person specification and application forms or guidance, if available

Which version of your CV and cover letter you applied with – keep copies on file for each application

Contact details for the recruiter and the employer in question

Any responses in terms of acknowledgements of receipt, information on the recruitment process – referencing the name, title and organisation of each and every contact you engage with in relation to a particular application, along with the date and time of any contact

Details of any follow up activities you undertake in relation to the application and your scheduled next steps

Interview details (think positive – build it and they will come!)

What tools can you use to track your job search?

Low-tech ideas

Tracking your job search doesn’t need to be a high-tech activity.  It can be as simple as manually recording details of jobs applied for in a notepad, or using an A4 file to keep printouts of all job application details, with a divider to separate each one.

Or, you could use a Microsoft Word document or Excel spreadsheet.  You can develop your own chart, selecting headers to meet your own needs, or request a free one from us via

You can print the chart as a blank template to fill in as you make progress in your job search, or keep it on your PC or laptop if you are likely to be at your computer to access the information when the recruiter calls.

If you are likely to receive a call from a recruiter whilst out and about, it would be worth familiarising yourself with your current applications, however it is perfectly acceptable to politely thank the recruiter for calling you, ask for details of the client company, specific role details and where they found you, then ask to set up the call at a better time.

Online job search tracking tools

Some online job sites offer candidates the facility to create a profile which will track the jobs they have applied for on that site, keeping all the relevant data in one place so you can easily call it to hand as needed.  This works fine when you are concentrating your job search activities on one specific site, but if you are using a number of sites, this could be complex to manage.

Another option is using an online job search management tool, which have been developed to help candidates to track their job search activities.  Free examples include:


JibberJobber describes itself as ‘a personal relationship manager that allows you to do everything you need to do to manage a job search and optimize your network relationships – for the duration of your career!’  The site’s features allow jobseekers to manage and organise their job search by keeping track of applications, managing relationships with professional contacts and targeting companies which may support their career goals.


Jobspeaker helps candidates to stay organised in their job search.  The site enables jobseekers to proactively manage all of the details of their job search, making sure that they are always ready for a recruiter’s call.

Jobseekers can search for jobs across their favourite job boards, rank jobs and track progress of applications, manage events and interviews, store job search documents, research and track potential employers and manage their contacts.


Have you been tracking your job search?  If so, are you using a high-tech or low-tech approach?  If not, it’s never too late to start!  Request your free copy of the MS Word chart we have developed to help you track your job search at

Seven Deadly Sins of Job Hunting

Seven Deadly Sins of Job Hunting

A job search can be a stressful scenario and, as with many stressful scenarios, it has the power to bring out the worst in each and every one of us.  As a job seeker under pressure, you are faced with decisions that could make or break your future.  If you take one path, then you are likely to end up at a certain destination; follow the other fork in the road and you will almost certainly end up at another.  With your future hanging in the balance, emotions can run high and your capacity to remain considered and honour your true virtues may be compromised.

This week we have decided to consider the seven deadly sins of job hunting.  Are you guilty of any of these vices in the context of your job search?


Remember, money is not everything.  When looking for a new job, don’t just be tempted by the salary.  Make sure it is the role itself that appeals and one that you feel, in your heart, that you could take on and enjoy.  It’s been known that people have gone for well-paid jobs and found that the role doesn’t fit with their aspirations or skill set, or that they’ve bitten off more than they can chew.

Greed is not a financial issue. It’s a heart issue.” ~ Andy Stanley


Don’t be lured into making your job applications too fat!  Remember, a two-page CV is the ideal maximum.  Don’t be excessive and cram every single bit of experience into your CV.  Indulge your inner gourmet and keep it selective but informative.  This also applies to job application forms.  Make sure you answer the questions and keep to the point.

“Gluttony is a great fault; but we do not necessarily dislike a glutton.  We only dislike a glutton when he becomes a gourmet…” ~ GK Chesterton


There is no point in coveting and applying for every single job you see in the hopes that one application will pay off.  Make sure you only apply for the roles you really desire and are seriously considering, ensuring that your CV is targeted to these roles.

“Curiosity is the lust of the mind.” ~ Thomas Hobbes


As the saying goes “the grass is always greener”.  You may see your friend in a seemingly dream role, benefiting from exciting projects, a fantastic salary and generous bonus.  It can be tempting to compare yourself to them and find your own job lacking.  Have a good long think about what you love or don’t love about your current role before you think about leaving.  Consider the pros and cons of staying on before convincing yourself that a different job would fulfil your desires.

“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.” ~ Socrates 


Don’t be lazy with your job hunt, don’t expect jobs to come to you.  Some people are lucky enough to be head-hunted for a job that represents a great match with their skills, experience and career dreams, but most of us have to work hard at finding a new position.  Therefore, it is important to keep checking relevant websites, check in with your recruitment agent regularly, keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and research target companies or industries in preparation for that all-important interview.

We excuse our sloth under the pretext of difficulty.” ~ Quintilian


Don’t make the mistake of ‘jacking in your job’ because someone or something has angered you.  It can be self-destructive to throw away a good role, which could potentially lead to something bigger in the future, because you couldn’t stand the company politics, or a colleague got on your nerves, or because you’ve been passed over for a promotion.  When you make your decision to leave a job, it should be a measured choice rather than one made in a flash of anger.

Men often make up in wrath what they want in reason.” ~ William R. Alger


Pride is considered to be the original and most serious of the deadly sins, and can be the downfall of many a jobseeker.  Don’t be too proud to ask for help with your CV, especially if it’s not getting you any interviews.  It is worth having a friend to look it over or, even better, asking a professional CV writer to deliver a free CV review.  Also, don’t be reticent in asking for help from your network, whether it be for job ideas, CV tips or even interview tips.

“In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes.” ~ John Ruskin 


If you can honestly say that you are innocent of these vices, then you truly are a job search angel.  If not, chin up, you’re only human after all!