The Most Important Key Words

by Susan Joyce

Susan Joyce Headshot

Think about how intensively recruiters and employers search the Internet to verify candidate qualifications and to get a sense of the candidate’s personality and “fit” for the job. What term are they searching for – the candidate’s name.

Today, for all of us (in a job search or not), the version of our name we use on LinkedIn, resumes, job applications, our blog, and other professional visibility is the most important keyword phrase we have.

I’ve seen too many frustrated job seekers who are “Patricia Smith” on LinkedIn, but “Patti Smith” on their applications, resumes, and other interactions with potential employers.

When no professional information is visible, the assumption made is that the candidate is either out-of-date or hiding something. A professional name is the version of your name that is used consistently for: Your resumes and cover letters, Your LinkedIn Profile, Your professional/work email, Name tags at professional networking meetings.

All other professional activities, online and off. It is the name always used to reach out to employers and in professional networking. The name establishes and supports the online professional persona.

Choosing the Professional Name. I’m not recommending a major change for most people – simply consistency and clarity with attention to the hazards presented by others with the same name.

Practice what I call “defensive Googling” at least once a month, more often if in an active job search. What is visible associated with your name, even if it is not really you?

Employers won’t know that the Patti Smith who pled guilty to drunk driving and selling drugs is not the Patti Smith who has applied for their job, particularly if there is no LinkedIn Profile or other professional visibility associated with Patti Smith making it clear that she’s not the drunk drug dealer.

Ideally, Patricia Smith would make the distinction clear by using “Patricia Smith” as her professional name, in her resumes and applications, connected to her LinkedIn Profile, etc. with that exact version of her name.

This is why our names are our most important, but often overlooked, keywords.