Credibility is a combination of your accomplishments, your education and how others perceive you and your personal brand based on your previous words and actions. Credibility, like respect, is something you earn over time.
As a job seeker, before you have a chance to earn your credibility in action on the job you must earn initial, short-term credibility in how you communicate and promote your personal brand online, since potential employers will not necessarily know you from personal experience.
Here are some top ways you can start building your credibility online:
1) Be Present and Complete: The first and most important way to establish credibility online is to be present. This means being findable, searchable and search-engine-optimized online so that potential career stakeholders can find you when they are looking for certain skills or experience in a candidate. In today’s digital age, if you aren’t present online, according to the search results, you don’t exist.
Some easy ways to establish strong presence online is to create profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, DoYouBuzz and Google+. These profiles are great places to promote your brand and include your professional experience and education. They are highly ranked in the search engines and can be further optimized with targeted industry keywords. You may also choose to take this to the next level by claiming your own domain name and creating your own professional website.
No matter what you do, ensure that everything you put on the Internet is 100% complete. You would never hand someone a half-written resume, so never leave a half-complete profile or webpage live on the Web.
2) Come Recommended: Recommendations from previous managers, colleagues and other career stakeholders are powerful indicators of your potential value to employers and hiring managers who have not yet had the opportunity to experience this value firsthand.
LinkedIn makes collecting and displaying recommendations from your contacts quick and painless. As a result, your LinkedIn profile, which is one of the number one places employers and recruiters are looking to find job candidates, not only shows your accomplishments, but immediately validates it with testimonials of your performance.
3) Share Your Expertise: There are many different ways you can gain credibility by sharing your relevant industry expertise with current and new contacts.
Getting involved in asking questions, answering questions and sharing insights and ideas related to your chosen industry is an effective way to establish your personal brand in a specific area. LinkedIn Answers is a unique Q&A forum that allows LinkedIn users to post questions and contribute answers to others’ questions. Quora has combined the power of Q&A and Wikipedia into one platform where each question and answer becomes a living document that users can continuously discuss and update. Quora can be a great way to establish credibility and visibility.
Blogging and contributing value-added content to better serve your industry can also be an outstanding way to increase your visibility and demonstrate your unique value to potential employers and career stakeholders. Blogs are very easy to get started, but do require time, energy and commitment. There are both free and self-hosted platforms to choose from, including WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and Typepad.
If you’re not ready to commit to starting your own blog, consider writing content to contribute to other industry blogs. To find candidate blogs for your posts, do a quick Google search, check out the blogrolls of leading blogs in your area, and check Alltop, an online magazine rack that provides a list of all the top blogs by industry or topic category.
4) Get Publicity: Getting quoted online in blogs and other online magazines or offline in books or other periodicals on a topic relevant to your industry and target employers adds a new credential for you to tout in your job search and supports your personal brand for your long-term career.
HelpaReporter.com (HARO) is a free service that links reporters, journalists, bloggers and authors with experts and experts-to-be for articles in print or online media. Sign up to receive daily queries from HARO and respond as often as possible and appropriate to any queries related to your field or areas of interest.
5) Get Published: Getting published carries a certain prestige and credibility. If you want to consider traditional publishing, you may know of publications and/or publishers in your industry to which you may want to send your content, but do check out the Writers Market series, as they provide invaluable resources and directories for writers. You may also consider self-publishing a book through CreateSpace or Lulu. You can also self-publish e-books in PDF format and share them via your blog or website, Scribd, SlideShare and across your networks.
Chris Perry, MBA, is a Gen Y brand and marketing generator, brand marketing manager, career search and personal branding expert, professional speaker, entrepreneur and brand consultant. Chris is the founder of Career Rocketeer, the Career Search and Personal Branding Network, MBA Highway, the MBA Job Search and Career Network and multiple other ventures. Learn more about Chris on his website: http://chrisperry.me