Did I get a surprise when I looked myself up on the Internet. I “Googled” my name and I managed to find out all sorts of things that I would rather not be found. A lot of it was true but there were also a few things that were not. A great deal of it was simply embarrassing and I started to wonder if there was any way to make it go away. A tall order I thought.
A lot of my friends have looked themselves up online and were surprised by what they found. Some of them were horrified by what could be discovered. This is especially true if they searched on a specialized web site like the one in this article. Just imagine what other people might think if they came across it.
Is your online profile stopping you getting a job?
It’s becoming standard practice for employers to use the Internet to check out prospective employees. It’s so easy for them to do that it doesn’t make any sense for them not to. So what will they find if they Google you?
I make a point of not posting too much personal stuff on the Internet if I can help it. I have a Facebook account but I post on it very rarely nowadays. Not everyone thinks like this though and I have to say neither did I until recently. If you put something on the Internet then it’s potentially there forever and if it’s on the Internet and it’s been made public even for a short while then there’s no telling where it might turn up.
Then there’s the stuff that other people post about you. Some people take great delight in posting pictures of me in embarrassing or unflattering situations then tagging me in them so that there can be no doubt that it’s me. I would rather they didn’t do this but what can you do?
Why is all this important? Well if there is information about you on the Internet then anyone, including your employers or prospective employers, can potentially find it. Ask yourself “would I give myself a job after finding the information available on the Internet”?
What can I do about my damaging online profile?
When you find information about you that is defamatory or incorrect you can email the webmaster and ask them to either remove it or print a retraction of some sort.
But unless the website is doing something illegal, posting your copyrighted material without your consent for instance, then they have no obligation to comply with your wishes. All you can do is ask politely and hope. Some webmasters will do as you ask and others will not.
You can also try using an online service like the one mentioned here to help with the cleanup. They have no more influence with the webmasters than you do but they might have some tricks up their sleeve and probably will submit more removal requests than you can yourself.
The best thing that you can do is start posting good things about yourself all over the place. Post to Facebook, Linkedin and other social media sites. Make sure that there are some stories about you doing good things out there. Donate to charities that publish the names of donors.
By splashing your best information around the Internet you will not only be balancing out the bad things that employers and other people can find but you will also be pushing the bad stuff down the search engine listings. If someone searches for your name and the first two pages of results contain all your best posts and pictures then they probably won’t go further.