What You Don't Know Could Hurt You

Have you ever done a Google Search on yourself? Any ideas on what you would find? Imagine you have the perfect candidate and client. What are they going to find?

In today’s cyber world, where you are virtually searching for candidates, your candidates are searching for you, as are your clients. You can never be too careful about what is being posted about you. Just because you have tools that you use for ‘business’ and those that you have for ‘personal’ use does not mean that they aren’t cross viewed.

Like it or not, this is the way of our world now. Cameras the size of credit cards that can capture photos and video are everywhere and people are uploading the information for all of Cyber Land to view. Even those X-rated pictures that were taken 10 years ago in university that you thought no one had copies of or even knew about, surprise! And it isn’t just someone, it is ANYONE. Once posted, they are now present for everyone’s viewing pleasure and critiquing.

I am pretty lucky. I haven’t done anything, at least not yet, deemed horrifically exciting enough to deface my name or reputation. When I Googled myself, I found the usual hits that I would expect to appear. There are however, numerous stories of people with more common names that have humourous, annoying or less than desired results returned. Regardless of the reputation you are aiming for, this can affect your identity and/or brand and possibly even your career.

With all that is out there, what is one supposed to do?

First, ensure that you are aware of what exactly ‘your name’ is doing on the web. I would highly recommend that you set up a Google Alert for your name, http://www.google.com/alerts. This will have an email sent to your attention whenever your name, or whatever you ask to be alerted about, turns up on the internet.

If this activity surrounding your name is creating a poor reputation for yourself and causing concern, the best strategy is post new information on the popular sites.Through the creation of more up to date information you may appear at the top of the search forcing the old information lower on the results page. (Notice I said may). Add or create some profiles: Google, My Space, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or even a Blog. There are lots out of tools out there!

Should you care? I guess that is a question that every individual in every type of business would answer differently. All I can tell you is that if you have a strong web presence, you have more control over how your reputation and you appear on the web. If my future employer was cruising Cyber Space to find out any extra information on me, I would definitely want to know what they were seeing. At least then I could be prepared to answer anything that might come up in my interview.

Google your name, take control and be prepared. What you don’t know, could hurt you.

(There are other steps but they seemed like A LOT of work with results that took A LONG time to actually take place. Plus, I am sure that if you were being impacted that negatively, you would look elsewhere besides a blog so I decided not to bore you or insult your intelligence.)

Views: 340

Comment by Akiode Segun on July 29, 2010 at 12:18pm
Lea, a very interesting post, practical as well. I do Google my name that often and I guess I need to do more of that. Thanks for sharing. Cheers. Segun Akiode
Comment by Brad Smith on July 29, 2010 at 2:51pm
Great post. In additional to Google Alerts you may want to set up alerts with Yahoo/Bing too. Same principle and in most cases they will return the same results. But, with each search engine using different algorithms there are sometimes discrepancies in search results. Another good (and free) tool is SocialMention. It helps keep better track of conversations happening on Twitter and other Social Networks. Last but not least, I'd also suggest setting up alerts for your competitors to stay current.
Thanks again for sharing the post!
Comment by JR Fent on July 29, 2010 at 3:59pm
Google can be tough to control and predict. I helped a friend to push articles away from his name in which he was falsely accused of a crime. If you Google'd him - the news stories about the case being dismissed and the apologies by the accusers - never made it to the front of Google - but the career damaging articles did. It took 2 years to get the first page of Google cleared of the negative info. He suffered several times in his professional career because of it.
Comment by Brad Smith on July 29, 2010 at 4:02pm
JR, you probably tried this in your efforts but Google does have a form you can use to request the removal of erroneous or personally damaging info, here is a link:


Thought I would share in case anyone else runs into the same issue.
Comment by Lea McKay on July 29, 2010 at 8:08pm
@Brad Thanks for the tip re:setting up alerts for competitors! And I appreciate the link and hope that it helps someone.

@JR 2 years?? Ouch. I hope that your friend has risen above all and managed to move onto success.
Comment by Chris Brablc on July 30, 2010 at 9:26am
Good advice. I actually just received a resume of a candidate for our internship and was going to interview them until saw the google feed for their name which included some bad moments from their past. Safe to say I went with someone else for the interview.

It's definitely something you should keep up to date with.
Comment by Chuck Summerland on August 13, 2010 at 5:23pm
Hi Lea,

Great post, I recently attended a seminar on the same subject. Some interesting points that came up were that over 80 percent of employers will Google someone before hiring them and that 75% of the people who know this still do nothing.
Before the seminar I didn’t have a Google presence and felt better without one. However after attending and learning that I can use Google to project a professional image of myself to the business community I, like you, did many of the things you mentioned above.

Currently this site has been great a pushing my name to the top of the Google searches and another quick way is to take blogs you post on here and repost them on a profile at wordpress.com. I have found in the matter of a month I became the top 7 searches when Googling my name.

If you have any other techniques I would be interested in hearing them.

- Chuck
Comment by Lea McKay on August 15, 2010 at 7:29pm
Hi Chuck,

Ranking can be quite complex, as I am sure you know. I don't have any secrets that differ from what you could find in a google search re: page ranking or SEO. If you find something. let me know!!
Glad to hear that you actually gained something from the seminar. Cheers and good luck in climbing the ranks!


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