If you’re looking for work you may want to think about this question. I personally had never given it much thought until recently when I googled myself. You may be surprised by what comes up! Employers nowadays google prospective candidates. In fact, one recent stat I read said that it’s as high as 77%!
If you’re in the job market, you want to make sure your online presence actually represents you the way you want it to.
First step? Do an audit of your online presence. Try googling your name as it appears on your resume or LinkedIn profile. This is likely what an employer will put into a search engine. Scroll through the first 2 or 3 pages and see what comes up. Is there anything you don’t want a potential employer to see? What are the first few things that come up on the first page? This may be as far as the potential employer will get so make sure these represent you as you want to be seen. You’ve only got one shot at making a first impression!
Second step? Clean house. If there are posts or videos or pictures of you that you don’t want online, take the time to remove them yourself if possible. Are there some old social media sites like Myspace or Pinterest that you don’t even use any more? Go to those sites and delete your accounts. You may need to go to the owner of other sites and request to have your content removed.
Third step? Tighten up your privacy settings on existing social media sites. Make sure your Facebook settings are set to private and remember that anyone can view your profile photos. So resist the urge to post that picture of yourself doing shooters at your friend’s stagette party last month! Also ensure your LinkedIn privacy settings are set properly so people can find you easily, view your profile (all professional of course!) but that your connections aren’t notified every time you make a change or update your profile. Taking the time NOW to do this will save you having to do more clean up later on.
Last step? Develop a strategy of how you want to be viewed online. Think of the image you want to portray. Your goal is that when an employer googles you (and believe me, they will!) the first couple of pages come up with the “you” as you want to be seen. Write blog posts, volunteer for organizations that are in line with your values, write articles or comment on ones that inspire you. These will soon appear closer to the top, which is what you want.
Parting thoughts? It’s not a matter of “will an employer google me?” it’s more “when will an employer google me?” It can take up to 3 months for some of the “clean ups” to take effect. So don’t wait!
– Dionne Orrange