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Without a Trace

April 1, 2010

April is now “Online Reputation Month.” Seriously. I just coined it that. The majority of this month’s posts will be on online personal branding, reputation management and things that I can cram into that category. Pay attention, because I have some special and fun planned for the end of the month!

Okay, you’ve sent in your fabulous resume, I’m impressed and want to give you a call to set up a phone interview. But before I do that, I’m going to Google you.

We can (and will!) go into what personal branding means and why you should care, but for me there are a few things I am checking to see.  On the Red Flag side:

1. Does anything really scary come up? Does anything with a quick search of your name pull up anything that will hurt my company’s reputation? Are you well-known for something I would really rather not associate myself with?

2. Are you clueless about your online reputation? Is your Facebook unlocked and your profile picture you doing kegstands? Do you use your real name to post on fanfic sites?

3. I can’t find you at all. This is especially frustrating if you have an uncommon name, and I still can’t pull anything up. I feel for you people with common names. For a super common name, I will try variations of your name, including your middle initial and your email address. It’s just hard for me to believe that in this day and age, you have no internet trace. And if you are applying for any sort of job involving media, that’s a big red flag.

Steps For Poofing You Into Existence

  1. Pick a name. Do you want to be known by FirstInitial Lastname, FirstName M.I. Lastname? Your level of detail depends on how common your name is. I tend to go by Erica Manney and EManney (when appropriate). There is another Erica Manney out there, but as far as I can tell, she is a long distance runner and hasn’t done much since high school. (See? Hopefully other Erica Manney will google herself, find this article and take my advice. And use a middle initial, Other Erica. I’ve got our name on lockdown!) Use this name on your resumes/professional correspondence.
  2. Do the same thing with your email address. And don’t make me tell you again about cutesy emails.
  3. Get your name out there, on really highly ranked linking sites.Ideally, you should post content and keep these updated, but at the very least – just fill them out, reserve them as your own and put some pertinent information. Which ones? A Google Profile and a LinkedIn is a good place to start. Start a blog. You don’t have to update it, but make your chosen name the name of the blog. That will help with search rankings. It takes only a few minutes on wordpress or blogger, and then you can link all of your external sites from there. External sites being the LinkedIn account you created, your amateur photography habit on Flickr, and maybe the Twitter handle you reserved.For people with uncommon names, this is a great opportunity to link any press/internet mentions that you do have and aren’t easily found to be now more closely associated with your name.
  4. Content. Content for your blog, and content on these external sites share some similarities. You want to mention the stuff you are good at, the stuff you are interested in and let some of your personality through. An appropriate picture helps for networking. Try to work in as many variations in your name as possible.A lot depends on what you are trying to achieve, or if you are actively job searching. But if you are happy and content, but concerned with your online rep (you should be!) this is a nice precautionary measure.

Was this helpful? I’d also really love hear from people who don’t have an online presence. How? Do you wish you had one? Are you actively avoiding one?

One Comment
  1. April 6, 2010 12:27 pm

    I just googled my name and the standard stuff came up, mostly work related stuff. But then there is a girl with my same name on Facebook with a profile pic that’s not … too bad, just not something I would put up. Nothing I can do about it.
    .-= Andrea´s last blog ..GLEE!!! vs. LOST =-.

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