Let’s face it, we’ve all done things we’d prefer to keep private — from embarrassing 6th grade photos of your “awkward stage”, to that crazy weekend that really should NOT be documented, but instead go to the grave with you and your best friend.
The Internet offers many amazing opportunities, but the reality is, it can also take them away from us.
Have you ever tried to google yourself? You should! It’s not just a vanity thing either. Today, investigating yourself online is what we like to call an ONLINE AUDIT.
Think about this. You’re in the process of just launching or building your career. Maybe you’re in your own business, or the officer of an organization. Maybe you’re in the midst of pitching yourself as an applicant against a sea of others eager for the same opportunity.
When you’re looking to learn more about someone, you look for them online, right? Well, so do most people!
What do others find when they search for you?
If I go to google someone and nothing comes up, my first thought is “haven’t they done anything notable in their lives”? At very least, I expect to see sports photos, or school photos, or an online profile (business or social) that says they’re engaged in the outside world. If they’ve reached a certain level of success, I assume I’ll find a bio, a web site, or something that acknowledges their career, their journey so far. Finding nothing doesn’t even really say NOTHING. In some instances, it actually says a lot.
Okay, if someone is only visible via social sites and party recaps, you’d better bet I’m going to look a lot more closely for any signs of what they do on the professional side. Who knows what I’ll come across then!
I don’t think we need to go into too much detail here, but anything that could possibly be construed as inappropriate, rude, mean, indecent, incriminating, or in poor taste can become a big problem for you. It’s not just your friends who can see this stuff (unless you’re profiles are set on private – but that’s no guarantee either.) People lose important opportunities and potential relationships every day because of what people find. If you’re not sure how others may interpret something about you, share it with some close friends to get their impression. Then pull it down, or beg your friend to remove anything questionable. Write to companies that post information on you that’s too personal or erroneous. Clear the record. Make a real effort to clean up your image online.
In every one of these instances what’s missing is your PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY. Who are you and what have you accomplished? What are you aspiring to do with your life? What do you really want recruiters, your employer, colleagues, educators, mentors, big contacts, and even your family to know abut you? This is the information that people really should find about you.