“Defensive Googling” Is NOT Optional!
By Susan P. Joyce
For years we’ve heard searching for your name in Google referred to with disparaging terms like “ego surfing” or “vanity Googling.” Nonsense! Today, not knowing what Google shows a potential employer, possible network member, or new neighbor is extremely naïve and potentially very hazardous. Even if someone has lived a “perfect” and “blameless” life, defensive Googling is a necessity today!
Why is it dangerous not to Google yourself? If you don’t practice defensive Googling monthly (at a minimum), you won’t know what Google is showing the world about you in search results!
Public information aggregator sites like MyLife.com and Whitepages.com have probably collected and can display too much very personal information about you, like your current address, age, birthday, names of family members, arrest records (if any), etc.
Solution: When you find these sites, you can usually “opt out” of having your information made public. To find the opt-out option, search Google using this text - "opt out" site:domain-name.com – replacing “site:domain-name.com” with the appropriate domain name, like site:whitepages.com (no space between the colon and the domain name).
Online Someone else using the same name may not have lived such a blameless life! I’ve had job seekers tell me that they found people with the same name which included a disbarred attorney and a registered sex offender, among many problematic discoveries.
Since the person searching Google may not know that the job candidate is not the disbarred attorney or registered sex offender, paying attention to Google’s search results is very important.
Solution: Choose the cleanest version of your name for your professional identity. Add or remove a middle name or middle initial or maiden name, change from Ed to Edward M, until you find a version which is not impacted by someone else living nearby. Use LinkedIn to claim that version of your name, and then also use it in your email address, business cards, resumes, meeting badges, and all other professional visibility.