How often do you Google yourself? I know, it’s sometimes hard to admit the real number.
So, I’ll start. Of course I’ve Googled myself! Doesn’t everyone? You might be doing it for fun, (like before applying for jobs—which I highly recommend). Whatever the reason is, running your name through a search engine now and then is just a part of life now.
But, do you know what to do if your search turns up something you didn’t expect or don’t want associated with you? Here are four ways to repair or reduce the damage to your online reputation so you don’t have to cringe thinking about what a hiring manager finds.
1. Hide It
Sometimes out-of-sight can really be out of mind. And, in the case of those party pics from your college days or your over-enthusiastic “discussion” of the latest political issues, the good news is that you can essentially get rid of the evidence by just deleting the photos and the tweets, or by updating your privacy settings to limit the audience to “just friends.”
But, if someone else has made the information public, you’ll have to approach him or her for help. Explain to friends that you’re doing a digital cleanse. If they’re moving slow or not responding at all, pull the “it’s for my job” card.
Or, for websites, contact the company or organization behind them and make a polite but firm appeal to have the offending item removed. When that still doesn’t help, you can try turning to Google itself or asking Facebook for help in removing certain types of content.
2. Pay for It
When the first option doesn’t help, it could be time to call in the professionals. Companies or consultants that specialize in making you look good (or at least stopping you from looking bad) online are called “reputation managers.” And that’s honestly who you may have to turn to.
Some reputation specialists, like BrandYourself, have tools you can use to track and improve your Google results yourself. And others, like Reputation X, offer custom services tailored to your particular problem. Of course, this kind of personal attention won’t come cheap, but it might be worth it if it means landing your dream job, or even just helping you sleep better at night.
What exactly do they do? A reputation specialist helps create and promote content that shows you in your best light and hopefully eliminates or reduces the search ranking of what doesn’t. Plus, they can teach you how to proactively manage your online profile so you can avoid future mistakes before they happen.
3. Overpower It
The last option takes some time and energy—but, it could turn your internet indiscretions into your greatest strengths. What is this tedious, but rewarding, solution? Fill the web with positive content created by you.
The idea behind this solution is that if you produce enough quality content, it will rank higher and higher, while anything negative will drop down in the search results as people are drawn to your best results.
So, make sure you’re actively posting positive and professional material on a regular basis (with the same name you suspect people are using when they search for you online) on all the major social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. And, to really be the master of your digital destiny, set up your own site (with a YourName.com URL) and link to your social media to increase that Google goodness.
Think about it: If a hiring manager’s searching your name, he or she isn’t going hunting for bad results. It’s more likely he or she will see the first few, click to make sure that they’re positive, and then assume you’re A-OK!
Great news: You can stop dreading what turns up when your name is typed into that tiny search box. While it may take more than a day or two to change your reputation, these tips could help you make your Google results shine.
Photo of woman on computer courtesy of Hero Images/Getty Images.
TopicsHack Your Career by Kelli Smith , Personal Branding , Finding a Job , Job Search , Syndication
Kelli runs customer support and creates content for Skillcrush, a digital skills training and education platform with friendly instructors, an active student community, and laser focus on helping you achieve your career goals with technology. She has an MBA and successfully ran an international company and her own freelancing business before pursuing her passion for tech by taking advanced web development classes. Kelli loves listening to tech podcasts at 2x speed, looking for cute Corgi photos online and teaching and performing country line dancing—as a true Texan living in Finland would do. Say hi on Twitter.More from this Author