Although some may dub it "egosurfing," others might call it a wise career move to conduct a web search to see what information about you is available online. After all, what is visible to you also is visible to potential employers. In a recent survey, 69 percent of workers interviewed said they have entered their name in one or more search engines to see what results were displayed.
The survey was developed by Accountemps, a specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on interviews with 443 workers 18 years of age or older and employed full or part time in an office environment.
Workers were asked, "Have you ever conducted a search on your own name using a search engine?" Their responses:
Yes -- 69 percent
No -- 31 percent
"While all professionals should protect their reputation by monitoring their online presence, this is especially critical for job seekers," said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Job Hunting For Dummies. "Many employers now routinely perform Internet searches to quickly learn about applicants' interests, experience and industry involvement."
Messmer noted, "Job seekers need to pay attention to what they share online -- including contributed content, article comments and photos -- and take steps to ensure the image they project is professional."
Accountemps offers the following five tips for making your online footprint work for you:
1. Know what's out there. Set alerts using Google or other tracking services to receive a notification each time something new is said about you, and delete any content that could be seen as unprofessional or controversial. If you find unflattering material you cannot remove, be prepared to explain if a hiring manager asks about it.
2. Take advantage of privacy settings. If you belong to social networking sites or have a personal blog, adjust your privacy settings so you control who has access.
3. Contribute to the conversation. As appropriate, comment on articles of interest to you and your field, and consider writing columns for industry organizations.
4. Exercise discretion. Be aware that whatever you post may be seen by potential employers, and give careful consideration to how statements you make may be interpreted. While you want to show you have a well-informed opinion, keep your comments constructive, and avoid disparaging others.
5. Keep your profiles current. Make sure your professional profiles on sites such as Google and LinkedIn are up-to-date and highlight your experience.