Have you ever Googled yourself? According to a new study from the Pew Research Center, 56 percent of Internet users have searched for their own name online. This is up from 22 percent when they first asked Internet users in 2001, but today’s percentage has remained relatively the same in the last few years.
Googling yourself is extremely important because, according to a survey by ExecuNet, 90 percent of recruiters research job candidates through Google. They do this to learn more than what you give them on your resume. They want to gain insight into your personal brand. In fact, 50 percent of those recruiters have eliminated job candidates after learning certain information through their search.
According to CareerBuilder, recruiters are finding many red flags when they search for candidates on Google and social media. These include: inappropriate photos (50 percent), references to drugs or alcohol (48 percent), bad mouthing previous employers (33 percent), poor communication skills (30 percent), and more.
On the plus side, 82 percent of recruiters in the ExecuNet survey said they also view a candidate more favorably when they find positive information online. Some of the more favorable information according to CareerBuilder include: a professional image (57 percent), a good personality (50 percent), well-rounded interests (50 percent), a professional history (49 percent), creativity (46 percent), strong communication skills (43 percent), and more.
It’s important to Google yourself so you can understand what recruiters (or anyone else) find when they do it themselves. You want to fall into the category of people whose online images build their brand credibility, not the category who get eliminated from job opportunities.
Here are some steps you can take to start your personal Google search:
Start with the basics. Search for your name the way it’s spelled on your resume. Then try a few other variations of your name. Use your full name, nick name, middle name, etc. If there’s a common misspelling of your name, search for that too.
Add some details. If you have a pretty common name, like John Smith, add some details about your location, college, or current company to narrow the search. Determine what it takes to find you, rather than the thousands of other John Smiths.
Hide private results. Google search has a feature that provides you with search results from the public web as well as other sites and information linked to your Google+ account. Select the option to hide private results if you want to see what others will find when they search for you.
Set up Google alerts. Google allows you to set up alerts so you can monitor any changes in your saved search. Save the searches for your name and receive email updates when any new results are added to Google. Then you can know instantly when you’re mentioned online.
Search on other sites too. While it’s safe to assume the majority of people use Google for their web searches, it’s not always the case. It’s a good idea to look yourself up on other search engines and social media sites as well, just in case you see different results.
It’s really important to find out exactly what your brand looks like to other people. You cannot manage a good personal brand if you don’t understand the results of your efforts. If you find content you don’t like, you have time to address the concerns. Make changes on your social media profiles and try to eliminate the negative results in your next search. If you want your brand to be the best it can be, you need to be part of the 56 percent of people Googling themselves.
What tips do you have for Googling yourself?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.