Job seekers can and should monitor their names using Google Alerts. Someone else with the same name who has done something shocking, unusual, or disreputable can negatively impact YOUR job search.
[Google has changed, of course, so this article was updated October 18, 2012.]
The vast majority of employers (79%!) do Google job applicants, and they won’t know if you are the person who robbed the bank or posed nude, but they probably won’t want to take a chance hiring that person. So, you will lose out, even if you were not the person who showed up in the Google search. The best defense in this case is knowledge!
Put Google to work for your job search!
Type your name in the “Search terms” box.Go to Google.com/alertsand follow the steps below. Google Alerts are free, very easy to set up, and easy to cancel if you decide you don’t want them.
- Enclose your name inside quotation marks, as in the example below. The quotation marks will tell Google that you want the words in your name as a phrase, so Google will look for all the words together on a page rather than each word separately which is much less useful.
- Result type?
I suggest “Everything” as the “Type” because that will mean Google searches through the entire Web, blogs, news, discussion, and videos. “Everything” throws the widest net which is what you want in this case.
- How often?
“Once a day” is my preferred “How often” selection. The other options are “as it happens” and “once a week,” which can drive you crazy with too much activity or not notify you soon enough. If nothing happens on a given day, Google won’t send you an empty message.
- How many?
“Only the best results” is Google’s recommendation to keep volume down and to be informed only when a high-quality and relevant result appears. That seems like a good idea to keep from being buried with notifications about insignificant posts.
- Adding your email address is the last step.
Don’t worry, Google won’t send you a message with 50 results in it unless everything in the top 50 results changes at the same time, which is extremely unlikely. More likely, you’ll receive one or two results per message, and only one or two messages per week unless your name is extremely common.
Done! If you discover that your name is very popular, you should consider modifying your public name to be unique. For example:
- MANY people are named “Jim Jones” but only one of them is “James Earl Jones.”
- Many people are named “Neil Harris” but only one is named “Neil Patrick Harris.”
- Many people are named “David Scott” but only one is named “David Meerman Scott.”
You get the idea. Carve out a unique version of your name, use it on your resume, LinkedIn and Google profiles, and then monitor that name, too. Spelling out your middle name is only one option, find more options plus how to establish and strengthen your personal reputation in Online Reputation Management.
You can establish up to 1,000 Alerts if you set up a Google account (free), enabling you to monitor multiple versions of your name as well as employers who interest you, industry news, competitors, friends, and much more.
More about Online Reputation Management:
© Copright Susan P. Joyce, 2012. All rights reserved.
About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 1998, her company, NETability, Inc. purchased Job-Hunt.org, and Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt since then. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.