In today’s fast paced, highly competitive job market where first impressions are the fine line between success and failure, you must be keenly aware of your online image. Bear in mind that a rising number of human resource recruiters are using Google when gathering information on potential employees. The necessity to maintain a clean online image should be common sense. We all know that posting photos of ourselves dancing on bar tops and/or partaking in acts radicalism probably won’t help our image in the eyes of an employer.
With these points in mind, being anonymous on Google might sound like a safe bet. But what really happens if a Google search for your name comes back blank? If an employer searches Google for your name and absolutely no results are returned, are you really any better off? The answer may be no. A mid-2006 market analysis by career search firm ExecuNet reported that 77% of the job recruiters claim they use search engines as a primary tool to research potential employees. It seems quite probable that this percentage has increased drastically in the last year.
If Google can’t locate a single webpage that references you, how much of an impact could you have possibly made in your career? If you have a tech based career it paints an even darker picture of your past performance. Having your own web presence says something about your contributions to the market itself. Even if your presence is derived from short intelligent comments left on professional forums, it shows that you are actively involved and aware of what is going on.
The best defense against being Google anonymous is a good offense. Be proactive. Create a web presence that you are proud to identify with. When you set out to build this presence, use your real name if you want people to find you.
Here are 3 ideas to get you started:
1. Create a Blog – Blogger Adam Darowski suggests that the blog is the new resume. If executed properly, it could be even better than a resume. It is a true representation of who you are, spoken freely in your own words. Your blog has the power to completely influence someone’s opinion about you. It satisfies the curiosity of any entity, especially potential employers, which might Google you to see what kind of person you are. The key is to show them your best, but remain truthful while doing so. Truth is the key to success for any blogger.
- You can create a free blog using one of the following sites:
2. Create a Personal Website – Popular domain sellers like GoDaddy and Yahoo Small-Business have simple step-by-step webpage creation tools that allow non-techie users to setup attractive websites. A website is designed to be more static than a blog, so you are not expected to update it as often. It could be used as a professional web portfolio by including your resume, professional works, career summaries, goals, etc.
- Get started with a personal website:
3. Use Professional Networking Sites – Professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Ziggs can also assist you in establishing a respectable online presence that will be searchable via Google. Both sites allow you to build an online profile, associate it with past employers, and network with professional contacts.
Just remember, if you don’t exist to Google, you may not exist at all.
What is Google? says
The problem is that anybody could easily slander your name in Google’s results. Just ask George Bush. Relying on Google alone for employee background checks is irresponsible, but I know it happens.
Just create a linkedin profile. Google usually puts that one on top.
I posed the question on LinkedIn’s Q&A of whether blogs help or hurt when looking for work.
I was a little surprised that the answers were very mixed. Among those who referenced actually looking at my blog, the answers were mostly positive.
But on the whole, it was mixed. Posters pointed out that you could be discriminated against for things people aren’t allowed to ask in interviews (having kids, marital status, etc.).
@What is Google:
Online slander and name misrepresentation are certainly negative points that many professionals fear when it comes to Googling their name. That is exactly why I believe the best defense is a solid offense. If you personally create a professional factual resource about yourself and target your name as the primary keyword in the title, H1 tags, body, etc., your page should rank above any other pages on Google (unless your name is extremely common).
There are always two ways to look at every scenario. You are correct; a personal blog might give information away that would otherwise be unavailable to an employer. The real question is: Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I truly believe it can be a good thing if done right. If you use common sense when creating your blog, you can limit the personal information you put out there by including only the information you don’t mind an employer seeing. You can honestly portray yourself without being completely naked to the world.
Be sure to get your free profile at Ziggs too. It is a very comprehensive profile format – to let you present yourself as professionally as possible. Ziggs also has a service that posts your profile to the top of every search engine for added visibility (It’s called WebPro). Since top blue chip recruiters come to Ziggs to find candidates, it’s a good place to be listed.
I created my LinkedIn profiles but it doesn’t show in Google yet. 🙁
I highly doubt that its that bad of a thing. My name is a *highly* common name that literally thousands of people have (yes even my first and 2nd name together). It is even highly probably that people in my profession have an identical name. I take solace in the inherent anonymity of such a common name. (I’ve even met someone with all three names of mine: fist, middle, and last!)
No Way says
I don’t buy the blog argument. If you’re one of those persons that are capable of filling an interesting blog with proper writing, it will not hurt you. If you run the blog, just because you think you’ll need one, it’ll be different.
Assuming your name is rare enough (like my real name) a google search will not only show up posts under that name. It will also cough up other information. Having used the internet for over 10 years, an amazing amount of information comes up. Some of it might not be attractive to new employers, even it it’s only for the spelling mistakes that make your look like an idiot.
I specially recommend searching for your name on google groups, if you ever used the usenet and to ask google to remove any posts you did and don’t want to be linked to your name for eternity.
Creating a blog is only one option. I agree with you. If you don’t want a blog, you shouldn’t start one because your lack of interest will show. However, you should have some sort of web presence. Consider a static personal website hosting your resume and a professional portfolio of your career undertakings.
The idea is to be proactive about your web presence.