Google is a search engine. Wrong. Google is a reputation management tool.

If asked anything, whether about a band, shop, company, name or place, what is the first thing you do? Google it. Even your grandma Googles it now. It officially became a verb in the Oxford English Dictionary 4 years ago. It is undeniable that information a Google search brings back can dramatically affect your opinion.

But have you thought about what happens when someone googles you? Most people probably haven’t tried (do it now, see what happens, I’ll wait!). Chances are about 6 people you share your name with pop out of their respective social networking profiles, probably one or two of the results is yours. 123people.co.uk may well be there too, this is a site designed for searching out people and will bring together any profile you have on Facebook, MySpace, etc as well as any mentions of your name in the news (even if it not actually you), indeed that scathing review you left on Amazon 3 years ago, and the wish list you made when you where 15… OK so that’s me but none the less, many people don’t think too much about the reputation trail there leaving online. This rings especially true when I tell you that recent research shows that 79% of surveyed hiring managers and job recruiters review online information about job applicants AND 70% had rejected candidates based on what they had found.

So is privacy dead? Not quite but, whether you’re a Facebook addict, Tweetaholic or both there are a few things you need to keep in mind whilst updating your status or tagging those photos from last night.

Whilst being everywhere on the internet maximizes your chances of being seen (which could help you get a job), you need to think about your Personal Brand, in 2010 your CV is much more than a piece of paper!

A few hints and tips…

Keep it simple – Do you really need to be everywhere on the net, having profiles on just one or two social networking sites will make it far easier to keep track of your image.

In the with the new, out with the old – Still got that MySpace profile that you haven’t used in years? Delete it, You never can be sure what will crop up on somebody’s search for you.

Check your settings – Most social network’s default settings are designed to make you as open as possible, think about what parts of your profile you want to be seen and by who.

Know who’s following you – You need to think about who you’re allowing into your network, how well do you really know that guy you met at the bus stop last week? Are you willing to have your colleagues or boss seeing what you got up to at the weekend? Either let them in and change your activity accordingly or decide to keep them out.

Be consistent – If you’re trying to build a ‘Personal Brand’ it needs to be consistent, changing your picture and what your tweeting about daily will reduce the chances of you being recognized and make you appear scatty and unsure of yourself.

You’re going to have a profile online whether you’ve made it yourself or not, so make sure your in control of it, get it to work for you rather than against you.

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