For the rest of us, the Internet can be harmful to our careers. Every week there’s a news story about someone who got fired because of something they (or their friends) posted online. Aside from changing your name, the best way to avoid a sticky situation with your employer is to not break any rules or code of ethics violations in the first place. That way, there will never be any evidence to use against you! Regardless, it doesn’t hurt to be on top of what your boss might see in a Google search. Here are 4 tips to help you survive being Googled by your employer.
#1 Google Yourself
If you wonder what your employer will find in a Google search, just look yourself. Don’t stop at Googling one version of your name; try various combinations. Also try your name and the name of your company. Try your name and your city. If your name is easily misspelled, try searching for the most common misspellings. You should also try Googling your name along with the names of social media brands (i.e. “Jane Smith Facebook”).
#2 Spring Clean
After you get a few pages of results, comb through them. Delete old accounts that show up in the search that might be problematic. If you find less-than-flattering results, you can contact the owner of the site to request that your name be removed. If your friends have their Facebook posts set to “Public” and they tag you in pictures, anyone can see the picture. Untagging yourself is a quick process, so if you catch it quickly, this is relatively harmless. However if your friend tags you in the text of her post, you’ll have to contact her to delete the post (or edit your name out of it).
#3 Control the Information
Even better than scrubbing the information is controlling the information. What would happen to the Google results if you started commenting on career-related news articles? What if you started a blog or website related to your profession? What if you created additional social media accounts? Doing these things might help push unfavorable information further down in the Google results, making them harder to find. You can also use Brand Yourself, an online reputation tool, for free, to manage how you’re perceived online.
#4 Be Persistent
Great! You’ve cleaned up your online presence, but if you aren’t vigilant, this was a pointless exercise. When friends post something that could be questionable for your career, talk to them immediately. Perform frequent Google searches and work to remove anything that you wouldn’t want to discuss with your boss.
If all else fails, by Googling yourself frequently, you’ll know exactly what others are seeing when they search for you. You won’t be taken off guard if someone asks you about a specific link; you’ll be prepared to discuss it!
Written by Kirsten Whittingham.