Your Online Footprint & Why it MattersPosted: August 9, 2011
For some it may be easier to simply change your name to disassociate yourself from all the things you did as a younger person and can’t erase from the Internet.
However, I don’t expect a run on Name Change requests at the county clerk’s office anytime soon; nevertheless a lot of people do have a PR nightmare on their hands. If you haven’t “Googled” your own name, you really ought to. Then look at the results and ask yourself, “if a potential employer, graduate school, or business partner saw these results would it help or damage my chances?”
What with reference to your picture plastered in your friend’s Facebook or your political views widely available on Twitter?
Increasingly, companies these days, prior to making an offer to a potential applicant, verify his/her “online footprint”. Colleagues “Google” and “Bing” your name to see what they can find about you; and so does your local competitor.
This pertains to everyone, even teenagers. Today, if you are 15 years old, you might not consider those things matter much, although when you are 23, and about to graduate and enter the professional market for your first job, your “online footprint” might haunt you.
So, what can you do to manage what gets placed in your online footprint?
Be vigilant about what you post
Ask yourself, “would I be bothered if this came up on the first page of the search results for my name”. If not, then perhaps you should put it online
If there is something you want to take part in online, but are hesitant about how it will come across to a future employer (e.g. online poker, The Louisville Cardinal Fan page, etc.) consider doing it under an assumed name that isn’t going to be stumbled upon when someone searches for you
Don’t presume you can remove something from the internet once it’s posted. As soon as something is posted there is no assurance that it can be permanently deleted.
Utilizing two online personas can be a simple approach to separate the things that you want connected with your name (your brand) and the things that you don’t. Have one persona for your professional appearance and another for your personal. This doesn’t necessarily imply you are attempting to hide something, but if someone searches for your name, it may perhaps be beneficial for them to find your resume and additional professional work as the top results rather than pages and pages of arguments about radical conspiracy theories or what the greatest Chuck Norris joke is.
Plan your online profile
Just as you need to be vigilant to control negative or possibly destructive online footprints; you can actively construct a positive online footprint.
Create several profiles under your name
A simple profile at several different websites that operate like an online resume can be a valuable approach to bolster your online presence. A handful of sites that may possibly be worth creating a small page on are: WordPress, Blogger, LinkedIn, Twitter (only if you intend to update regularly) and Facebook.
Acquire your own domain
A personal domain will cost $10 to $30 per year. Odds are it will be categorized high for your name and provides you a stable home on the Internet despite what free services come and go. Make an effort to get something as close to your name as possible. Whatever you do, don’t register a name like bigdaddycool.com or johndoethegunshow.com. If at all possible it needs to be simply yourname.com, or as close a variation as possible.
Link your profiles
One of the greatest approaches to drive your websites to the front page for your name is to interlace them. If you have a Facebook account, be sure to tie it to all of your other websites and vice versa.
Post what you would like people to notice
Write about things that you want people to associate with you. Ponder the kinds of things a potential employer would consider deem “good signs” when they search for your name
Verify what others are observing
I read an article recently about a gentleman who was having a dreadful time getting a job. Each and every time he was invited for an interview it would go extremely well, nonetheless afterward he’d never hear anything in return from the company. When he called in to check they had offered the job to someone else. At last he performed a search for his name on Google. To his terror he discovered that the first page of results pertained to the hearing of a child molester that shared his name.
Assume that prospective employers are going to search for your name and if you have some circumstances like the fellow cited above, make sure to be preemptive by saying something like, “When you do a search for my name in Google you are going to discover a great deal of articles concerning someone who holds the same name, but is currently in prison. I simply would like to let you know that isn’t me”
Do away with bad content
If in spite of your greatest endeavors there remains something in the search results that is humiliating, there are a couple of approaches to take care of it. One tactic is to load the web with an adequate amount of supplementary positive content to shove it down in the results where it is less likely to be noticed. The other is to have it erased –or removed as best you can.
Occasionally people fail to see the easiest process of getting content removed from the web–requesting the person who posted it to take it down.
Obviously the best action is to avoid having damaging things advertised about you in the first place, but then again that isn’t always feasible.
Taking a little time to reflect on the big picture in relation to the footprints you are leaving on the web may very well prevent years of anxiety in your future. You don’t need to be horrified about privacy issues– simply use a bit of good sense at present so you won’t regret whatever people are reading about you in the future.