As a job seeker or potential college student, it should be common knowledge that you’ll more than likely come under digital scrutiny at least once in your life. It’s the age of the Internet, after all, and everyone has their own digital footprint. Some employers who take to Google before calling you down for an interview might be seeking several things: what you look like, how you conduct yourself in online spaces, and what you’re like when you’re not at work.
It might seem like an invasion of privacy, but transparency is inevitable in the digital world. Social media use is on the rise, and every millennial is likely connected to at least one platform: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Have you ever tried searching for yourself on Google? You might want to give it a try now. The results might give you reasons to be apprehensive about being looked up, or they might not. Either way, there are a handful of things you can do to avoid being passed over for another applicant. Here’s a quick guide to get you started.
#1: Redirect employer focus
With personal websites and online portfolios on the rise, it’s highly recommended that you show potential employers what you want them to see. It’s better than waiting around for them to dig up something unsavoury. If you have a professional website at the ready, or an online space where you showcase your talent and work, then you should do your utmost best to make them known. Include links in your CV as well as sticking it at the bottom of your e-mail signatures. If you’ve established a professional, online presence already, you’ll definitely want employers to notice.
#2: Show that you’re engaged – in the right way
Start beefing up your LinkedIn profile and feed. If you’re on Twitter, polish that public account up too. If anyone searches up your email or name, these social media profiles might turn up. Engage with others genuinely and share news relevant to your field and industry. It might not seem like much, but it’s always a good sign to find a potential candidate already invested in their work and professional sphere. Instead of searching and finding a half-baked LinkedIn page, you might want to show potential employers a more proactive, eager side of you.
#3: Curate the information you share publicly
This is crucial to avoiding messy misunderstandings before you even get to meet your employer. If you’re someone who utilises social media as a place to vent your frustrations, consider separating that information and creating a private account. It’s better than lumping everything onto a public account for the world to see, and future employers who look you up won’t find long Twitter threads about why that person offended you so much last Thursday. The same goes for photos of you in compromising situations.
#3.5: Removing disagreeable photos
If unsavoury photos of you turn up on social media, you can be sure they’ll show up in Google Images. It’s easy to remove these photos if the poster is a friend or an acquaintance. The same goes for sweeping through your own profiles yourself. If, however, you happen to find your photos on a website or unfamiliar platform, it’s best if you contact the owner or host directly to request a takedown. Google also has a page on legal takedown requests if the site owner proves stubborn or reluctant to comply.
With any luck, these three tips will help you get started on maintaining a more professional image online. After going through the steps, try Googling your name again and see what turns up. Put yourself temporarily in the shoes of your potential employer. Do you see anything that might turn you away from hiring yourself? If not, then you’re well on your way to surviving being Googled!