Online, your reputation is your life. When you’re looking for a job, the stakes are even higher. What will employers find when they google your name?
The first step in discovering that is to do the search. Google your name in all the forms someone may search. With your middle initial. Without your middle initial. With your middle name. Without your middle name. If like me, you have two last names, google your name with only one and then the other. Do the same search in all of the social media you use. What shows up when you enter your name in LinkedIn?
When you use your own computer for this, the results may be skewed because of your browser history. To show you a more accurate picture of what others see when they searche for you, use a friend’s computer at their house. Visit your public library and do the search on their computers.
Then, set up a Go0gle alert on those versions of your name that you want to keep checking. When your name shows up online, Google sends you a message.
A friend discovered that she has the same name as a porn star. When you google the name my friend had been using professionally, you find very distracting photos and information. She experimented with searches on a variety of ways her name could be expressed, and settled on adding her middle name, which took care of the issue. Sometimes, a middle initial is enough. Sometimes, using a first initial along with a middle name works.
Another friend shares a name with a world-famous movie star. This isn’t as disconcerting as having x-rated photos show up in response to a search on your name, but it poses a similar problem. If a potential employer searches on her name and the movie star takes up the first 6 pages in Google, what are the chances the employer will scroll through the pages until he finds my friend? Not good. The solution is similar, finding an expression of her name that is different enough from the world-famous star that someone googling it will find her. Then, she must use that specific expression of her name with absolute consistency on all of her professional documents, profiles, and Web pages.
Individuals with very common names encounter a similar dilemma. When you search on their name, you end up with 400,000 results. Even if they show up on the first page, will the employer spend the time to determine which one is which? One solution is to add an identifier to a profile url. For example, if my name were Mary Smith, I may want to use my middle name and/or my profession or location to differentiate me. My LinkedIn url could look like this: www.linkedin.com/in/MaryAmeliaSmith-TucsonWriter.
Sometimes, the problem isn’t as simple as a name. Let’s say you had a couple too many drinks one night, and someone at the party posted a photo on Facebook that you’re not happy about. You can ask them to remove it, but even if they do, it could still pop up in a search. Often, those things have a life of their own. Someone shares it, and there it goes on another trail.
By all means, remove all of the instances you can find and control. Then, bury it. Add material to your timeline. Ask others you trust to add positive and appropriate posts to your timeline.
You can also try redirecting attention by using a different form of your name than the one the photo was posted to. In the most desperate of situations, you can cancel your account. Then, open and populate another with your “new” name and email address that you will use for your job search. None of this guarantees that the offending photo won’t show up in a search, but all you can do is decrease the chances.
If managing your online job search is giving you headaches, contact me today. I can help determine your strategy and set you in the right direction for your target.
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