Despite what you may have been told growing up, it’s okay to Google yourself. In fact you should do it often. You won’t go blind.
With so many different places and ways that someone can be mentioned online these days, it’s increasingly important for you to know what people find when they Google your name. Applying for a job? This is one of the first things employers do when considering hiring someone. Want a loan? Looking to impress a certain special someone? Starting a business? These are all very valid reasons why you should be aware of your web presence and the below checklist will get you started on the road to putting your best foot forward.
- Review ALL of your social media.
Your Facebook profile, Twitter and Instagram accounts are the first places people will be able to find you. It’s important to have a good understanding of every social media platform you’re using. If you’re not liking what you’re presenting to the public, make it private. Almost all social media sites have settings and a security section that allow you to filter who sees what you post.
- Be Polite.
Is there an unflattering photo from your past on a website that’s publicly accessible? Or perhaps an article that quotes you as saying something you no longer believe? Contact the person or company responsible for the material and politely ask if they would be able to remove it for you. You might be surprised how far a few kind words will get you.
- Overpower the bad with the good.
Maybe it’s not possible to have the bad stuff removed. You can work on flooding the internet with material that paints you in a positive light and turn having someone Google you into something that will benefit you. Making a charitable donation to have your name listed on a wall of donors, completing a 5K run and having your name listed in the results, posting pictures of your family and friends attending community based events are all things an employer or future step father would love to see.
- Hire a professional
If you have a more extreme case due to a checkered past or a series of unfortunate events, you can hire a reputation management company. These experts specialize in cleaning us regrettable digital footprints. It has the potential of being expensive, but it’s far less costly than losing out on your dream job.
A good rule of thumb to keep in mind: Are you posting things that you wouldn’t feel comfortable showing your grandparents? Then make your accounts private.