Monday, August 08, 2011

4 Ways to Manage Your Online Reputation

It may feel a little silly to Google your own name. Kind of self-absorbed and vain. It is called “vanity Googling” in some circles.

However, in fact, this is a very necessary part of job search today – monitoring your online reputation.

Why is vanity Googling necessary? Because employers research potential employees more than 80% of the time, according to some recent research funded by Microsoft. This means that - if you have applied for a job or are being considered for a job - the name you put on your resume or application will probably be Googled.

Do you know what will be found in a search for your name on Google?

People have had their job searches hurt by their own mistakes – posting inappropriate photos or videos online, posting nasty comments on blogs and in other public forums, or trusting a website that cannot be counted on to protect their privacy (Facebook springs to mind for me).

People have also been hurt by the dumb or nasty things done by other people who have the same name. Perhaps you are the perfect candidate for a job, but someone with the same name has robbed a bank or shared some very revealing personal photos online. And, the employer finds those photos or that arrest record in a Google search on your name. Unless the job specification includes experience robbing a bank or being photographed in revealing poses, you probably won’t get called in to interview for that job.

With the competition for jobs, few employers will take the time to deeply research the person who applied for their job. If there is any confusion or uncertainty, they will usually just move on to the next applicant – saving time and money.

So, what should you do?

1. Know what’s going on associated with your name.
Search to discover what potential employers will find. If there are no issues, consider yourself very lucky, and move on to the other steps below. If there are issues, the steps below will help you address them.

2. Pick a clean, relatively unique version of your name to use publicly.
Assume that, unless your name is very unique (there was even another “Barack Obama” – Barack Senior, father of the U.S. President), assume someone else with the same name will appear eventually, so use more than your first and last name.

If you have done dumb things online that are visible or if you share a name with someone who has a bad online reputation, find and claim a “clean” version of your name.

Add your middle name or middle initial, turn your first and middle name into initials, or some other change that makes your name unique.

For example, if you are currently known as “Mary Smith” and your middle name is “Jane”, you could use “Mary Jane Smith,” “M.J. Smith,” or “Mary J. Smith,” even “M. Jane Smith” if necessary.

3. Establish, or re-name, your LinkedIn and Google profiles with the clean name.

You have two powerful platforms to use to put out your version of who you are - LinkedIn and Google. They are powerful for you because you can control what they tell the world about you. They are also powerful because Google gives both good ranking on Google search results pages.

Go to and to set up or to modify your profiles - using or changing to your “clean name.”

So, use that “clean name” on your LinkedIn and Google Profiles, on your resume, on everything public that is associated with your work/professional life. Be sure to connect those dots for employers; don’t be “Mary Smith” on your resume and “M.J. Smith” on your LinkedIn profile.

4. Keep watching.
Continue to monitor what Google shows the world associated with your name by setting up Google Alerts on a search for your name. And don’t forget Bing and the other search engines that will appear over time.
Bottom Line
Monitoring your online reputation to manage it is not an option in today’s job market, and probably not in tomorrow’s either. So the sooner you get started, the better for your job search and career.

For more information, check out these pages on

Online Reputation in a Connected World, a very interesting study funded by Microsoft, done by CrossTab
Unlocking a Successful Job Search from

This guest post is by Susan P. Joyce, Editor/Publisher of

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, I have a VERY common name, and anyone would have a hard time trying to determine which is me and which is one of the thousands of others who share my name from an online source.

My reputation is secure as a result.