Cleaning up your online profile―and creating the one you want―is becoming easier for the layperson as we understand how information flows and accumulates on the internet.
First, find out about yourself.
1. 85% of search-engine users do not venture beyond the first page when researching someone.
2. Nearly 90% of recruiters conduct some sort of online investigation into recruits, and of these,
3. Almost 45% dropped someone from consideration based on information they found online.
1. Enter your name in the search bar of Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, three of the most widely used search engines.
2. If you have a common name, like Susan Smith, do a few different searches, adding your current or past employers or your hometown to your name.
3. Search images as well for any potentially embarrassing sorority pillow fight pics.
If nothing appears about you, that’s great if privacy is your only concern. But if you want to create a good impression for clients, employers, or potential new acquaintances, it helps if results return with positive entries (a blurb about a promotion, civic association membership announcement, a listing of volunteers at a charity events, etc.) and these results will be at or near the top of page one if you have few other online notices.
If you see negative results (an embarrassing photo on a friend’s website, an inglorious, angry rant on FB or a really odd purchase you made), chances are others, including prospective employers, will see them, too. The beer keg handstand that was funny back in the day isn’t so amusing to an HR manager considering you for a company position who may believe it depicts poor judgment. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been brought on to research and then polish up someone’s online profile (or, increasingly, from parents of intern or college-age children). You can remove the items yourself, ask your friend on whose timeline these goofy pics show up to take them down, push down these unwanted results until they appear way further down in the Google search engine return by running a strong paid social media campaign or pay professional reputation companies or investigation firms that perform this task. But from your desk, at the very least, please keep an eye on your internet self by:
Setting up alerts. To get an e-mail when your name is mentioned in news stories, blogs, or videos, go to google.com/alerts and enter your name, your e-mail address, and how often you would like to receive updates (daily, weekly, as they happen). Again, if you have a common name, add your company, hometown, profession, or job title. This service won’t alert you to everything (Facebook entries, for example), but it will help you keep track of new information that might come up on search engines.
For a service that tracks your mentions on major social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, try the aptly-named Mention. The platform can also alert you whenever someone includes your keyword in a post.
The most important advice we can give people is: do not post anything that you yourself cannot wholly control, including the ability to retract the post entirely from the internet.
BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.
As always, stay safe.