Admit it. You’ve probably “googled” your own name at one point or another out of sheer curiosity. If you haven’t, you probably will now. And, like it or not, so will your employers. A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management revealed that, out of over 300 HR professionals, fifty percent said they used a search engine like Google or Yahoo to screen potential employees. Additionally, one out of five survey respondents said they had had disqualified a candidate because of what they had uncovered.
With statistics like these, controlling your online presence becomes imperative if you are on the job market. Especially if the top results of your Google search are not particularly impressive–for example, your embarrassing fifth-grade picture or, worse, the embarrassing fifth-grade picture of someone with the same name as you.
Ironically, Google itself has come up with a way for you to counter the potential impediment it presents to your job search. Google Profiles, a recent invention, allows you to create a public profile that will appear on the first page of the search results for your name. You can write a short summary about yourself, upload photos, as well as post links to your other social media sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.
Google Profiles does not completely solve the problem of managing your online identity, but it does give you a degree of control over how you appear to potential employers. And considering that it takes less than ten minutes to create, it’s definitely worth your while.
To create a public profile using Google Profiles, click here.
(Additional tips for controlling your online presence: create professional LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. Google search results invariably favor these sites and may push less relevant, less flattering information onto later pages. According to J.T. O’Donnell, a nationally syndicated career expert, employers often assume that what appears in the ‘top fold–the front page–of a Google search is the most relevant and they rarely bother to check later pages. “The reality is you only need 5-6 good things to come up in a search so the [top fold] is filled with positive items about you,” she writes. Read the whole article here.)
“Background checks.” Society for Human Resource Management website. http://moss07.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/technology/Articles/Pages/CMS_022668.aspx (login required).
“Search for “me” on Google.” The official Google blog. http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/search-for-me-on-google.html.
Related Articles of Interest
“How deep can you probe?” HR Magazine, Vol. 52, No. 10. http://www.shrm.org/Publications/hrmagazine/editorialcontent/pages/1007sr-zeidner.aspx.
“New Mood in Antitrust May Target Google.” The New York Times online. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/18/technology/companies/18antitrust.html?ref=business.