February 09, 2010 | 12:00 AM
According to Online ID Calculator, "if you don't show up in Google, you don't exist." "Whether you are applying for a new job, being considered for a board position or trying to get a date, you can count on being googled" they say.
You should know what your on-line persona says about you because it is often the first impression you make. And unlike your resume, you don't have total control over how the Internet presents you. That's why it is important to actively manage what you can control.
Cleaning up your online image can seem overwhelming. There are millions of sites in cyberspace, so where do you start? If someone is looking for information about you, chances are they are going straight to Google. However, if you have a common name, simply googling yourself can be overwhelming. Scanning through dozens of pages, trying to figure out which of the mentioned are actually you can take hours. Pipl, the site that claims to be "the most comprehensive people search on the web," is an alternative to Google. You can search by name, email address, username, phone number, and other parameters. The site searches the net for all instances of your chosen field(s) and allows you to take stock of your online presence by presenting its findings in tidy little categories: photos, web pages, documents (Word, PDF, etc.), personal profiles (ex: Facebook, MySpace, etc.) and even professional and business profiles (LinkedIn, Zoominfo, Jigsaw, Spoke, etc.).
What do you do with this information? Clean up what you can. You may have long-forgotten accounts on social networking sites or old photos on media sites that you should delete. (Most sites will help you recover usernames and passwords if you've forgotten them.) There are credible sites that mine the web for information about people and companies to create profiles compiled from a variety of sources (press releases, company websites and association rosters). ZoomInfo is one. While it is not a site on which you can create a profile-such as with LinkedIn-ZoomInfo does allow you the opportunity to "claim" your profile, enabling you to shape what people view. You can add employment information, education, etc., and attach links to sites that showcase your achievements. At the very least, it is prudent to take a look to see what information ZoomInfo is attributing to your name.
The next step is to be proactive. Because you often do not have the authority to remove something that is posted about you, beefing up your online presence where you can is important. Keep your LinkedIn profile current (if you don't have a LinkedIn account, it's time to create one). LinkedIn is often the go-to site for anyone seeking to learn more about an individual. If you change jobs, or take on a new leadership role or charitable venture, make sure this is reflected in your profile. Include a current photo of yourself, especially if you haven't been active or have a common name. Reach out to former and current colleagues, classmates and friends via LinkedIn.
When you are actively seeking a new position, go the extra mile. Pay special attention to what is being published about you online on a daily or weekly basis. One way to do this is by using Google Alerts. Simply enter your name in the "search terms" box along with any other relevant keywords and Google will update you as-it-happens, once a day or once a week depending on your preference.
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