I occasionally and casually look up people from my past using various search engines and social media platforms. I mean, who doesn’t like to know what their high school archenemy is up to decades later or how that one guy you dated for a hot minute is holding up? Oh, is that just me?
What I haven’t done recently is Google myself.
Employers today want to know who they are hiring beyond your resume and face-to-face interview. When they need more, they turn to the internet. According to Money.com, employers will look at your social media presence and what turns up in a basic internet search. And they want to see good things. When they see negative things, it might cause them to reconsider you for a position.
Like credit reports, a quick peek down the internet rabbit hole is a necessary evil. You should also take the opportunity to clean up your search results.
This week we’re encouraging everyone to conduct a stalker-like search on search engines and social media as part of NextGen MilSpouse’s You Got This: 52 Challenges to Make 2016 Your Bitch.
Week 23 Challenge: Google Yourself
Challenge Details: Spend time this week Googling your name and reviewing what turns up about you. Untag yourself in any Facebook posts or photos that may be viewed negatively by potential employers.
Your Deadline: June 13
After months of avoiding my Google search, I finally bit the bullet and just did the thing already.
I pulled up my search engine of choice, which does happen to be Google and entered my name. I was prepared to cringe at old college pictures, but shockingly nothing like that came up! Maybe it was because I go through Facebook every few months and check out who has tagged me in what.
What did come up was not so much related to me at all! I found an obituary for someone else who has my full legal name. There was a hit for Ancestry.com and another link for a Twitter account that is not mine. The one thing that did come up as me: a picture I use for guest posts on blogs.
Given that Google turned up next to nothing that was actually mine, I decided to play around with search engines and names. I have 2 potential names that might turn up online: my legal name, Marguerite, and the nickname I use professionally (hint: it’s my byline).
When I Googled again, I found an article about a young woman who died in a car wreck, LinkedIn profiles that were not mine and a “nice to meet you” post by a Meg Flanagan who works for the State Department.
I also found my writer page for Slant, an article for Homefront United Network and my Google+ profile. So this was definitely more relevant than the first search.
Just to be safe, I decided to take a gander at Bing and Yahoo using both names.
Both search engines turned up similar links: LinkedIn, Facebook, Slant, Homefront United and obituaries that are not mine. Bing and Yahoo both turned up my About Me page that includes info about MilKids. Google didn’t have it on the first page.
So, overall, I have a fairly small online presence. That kind of surprised me, given that I write for several websites and have my own blog. I am also super active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in a professional capacity. I theorized all of those are linked to MilKids and not my actual name. My theory proved true when a quick search for MilKids had the whole first page mostly populated with my website!
My online search didn’t turn up too much, but the things it did turn up were all positive!
What did I learn?
First, make sure that your online presence is a positive one. Which doesn’t just mean things you’ve put out there, but also all the content that you have been tagged in. If it doesn’t reflect your personal or professional objectives, untag yourself right now.
Also, there are a LOT more people with my name than I thought! My first name is ultra unique and pretty old-fashioned. Before my search, the only other Marguerites I ever met were in my own family. Now I know that there are a few others out there.
Many of my results were for people who are not me, namely obituaries and accident reports. Given that the not-me Marguerites and Megs are mostly deceased and I am definitely alive, I think that my potential employers will be able to figure that one out.
I should also spend some time linking my professional and blog presence to my personal online personality. I might do just that, but with life happening really fast right now, I probably won’t. I will, however, definitely plaster my blogging and writing experience all over my resumes and cover letters.
At the end of the day, I’m pretty excited that my search results were so tame! Not that I live a wild life by any stretch, but you never know.
Your crazy 21st birthday extravaganza might still be lurking out there. It is way better to spend a little time right now to figure out what Google knows about you, and fix it, rather than lose a potential job later on.