Most people will say Googling yourself is a pretentious practice. But Googling yourself is practical. Especially if you’re applying for jobs, networking, or generally just trying to broaden your professional profile. It’s not just about finding negative things about yourself and cleaning it up like a personal online cleaning service.
If you don’t see what comes up in a Google search of your own name, you’re missing a trick. Follow this guideline to improve your job prospects, online presence, and overall reputation.
Preparing for a Job Search with a Web Search
Managing your online reputation has never been more important. Individuals attempting to advance their career, do so with careful planning. For example, resumes and cover letters crafted with specific industries, companies, and audiences in mind. Each document is meticulously edited to make sure that they are positioning themselves for success.
People become one-man marketing teams when it’s time to apply for a new job. They update their LinkedIn profiles with the latest information, polish online portfolios, and upload recent headshots. People spend a ton of time applying for jobs. Before we get to work on our resumes and cover letters, we clean up our professional online profiles.
Let that sink in. The first action job seekers take when they are preparing to apply for a new job — before updating their resumé or writing a cover letter — is updating their professional profiles online. Whether job seekers are applying for jobs through LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster or all three, they know that the first click will be on their profile, not on their attachments.
One Click Further: Managing Your Online Reputation
If the first click is on your profile, what is the second click that HR managers and recruiters make after receiving an online application? Hint: it’s not on the ‘download’ button to save those perfectly formatted word documents.
Almost 80 percent of all job recruiters are required to look potential employees up online during the hiring process.
The second click that HR managers and recruiters make, without a doubt, is the ‘search’ button after they’ve copied and pasted your name into Google’s search engine.
Google Yourself for Job Hunting, Networking, and Your Personal Life
It isn’t a surprise that HR departments run Google searches on prospective candidates. Why would it be? People run Google searches on people they meet constantly. Consider attending a conference or networking event: everyone leaves with a pocket full of business cards (yes, they still make those).
When those people go back to their desk and flip through a new stack of business cards they are more likely to run a search for the name of the person listed on the business card than they are to type in the web address.
The name of the person will be displayed prominently at the top of the card. The website, be it a company or personal website, is typically listed in smaller print at the bottom of the card. Thus, the name gets searched first. The search might yield a professional bio on a corporate website, a LinkedIn account, or an image from 2003 of the person doing a keg stand in college.
Does the image say it’s from 2003? No. For all people know, the picture could be from last weekend. This same principle applies to dating and even making new friends. People like to Google new people they meet because they want to get a “behind the scenes” peek at private lives. In reality, what they are seeing is a small part of the most public version of person’s life — often from a past that doesn’t reflect the person’s present.
Google yourself to determine your online reputation:
- In the search engine, type your name in quotes. For example: “John Smith”
- Review the first two pages of results
- Carefully review all the image results
- Repeat on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest — any social media site. Pay attention to apps or groups that may be public.
Do you like what you see? Did you find posts on Facebook that you were tagged in that are public? Public images you thought were private? Websites you’ve never heard of listing your name and pictures of you on a profile? You’re not alone.
[easy-tweet tweet=”Forty-three percent of millennials reported that they have been negatively affected by information about them online”] When they searched themselves, 20 percent found inaccurate information, 33 percent found their content had been shared without their permission, and 12 percent said they were “unpleasantly surprised” at what they had found.
How to Manage Your Online Reputation
Do not feel helpless or embarrassed. If you are one of the people who was “unpleasantly surprised” by what they read or saw after a Google search, there is a lot you can do to remove the information.
However, it will take time and effort on your part. Steps you can take to regain control of your online reputation:
- Remove content yourself. It will be time-consuming, but you can clean up most social media posts and images by untagging yourself, deleting them, or making them private.
- Ask to remove the content. Contact the websites or people posting the information or images and ask to have them removed. URLs for both the pages and the images. Follow up on the progress of your request to make sure that it is completed.
- Ask Google to remove content. If unflattering images from old social media profiles are still appearing in Google searches, click on the “visit page” button. If you receive a 404 / Not Found error message, fill out this form and ask Google to remove it.
- Override bad content with good content. If you haven’t already done so, set up a personal website and make the URL your name. Maintain a blog, even if you’re posting once a month, or copy and paste your resumé and link to your social media accounts. Sign up for a LinkedIn profile, Google+, or another other public profile that you can carefully curate. These profiles will appear in search first. Contributing articles to professional publications is another way to push the negative content down in search rankings.
There are a number of ways you can remove negative information from the internet, but if managing your online reputation sounds exhausting and stressful, or you feel the situation has gotten out of hand, it’s best to contact professionals to have your online reputation properly scrubbed, monitored, and maintained.