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Control your Public Image

Managing your online public profile is important. Your internet profile should emphasize and accentuate your professional side, and make it easier for people interested in you professionally to find out a little more about the “real” you. Therefore, conduct an online search of yourself using a variety of top search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo). Utilizing an assortment of search engines is important as each one uses slightly different search algorithms and returns slightly different results.

Focus your curation efforts on the first page of search results, as that is where most potential employers will focus their attention. Do the top hits contain overly divisive political statements, compromising photos of you at a party, or simply lots of pictures of your pets?  Is there anything to suggest you are a professional adult, or is the emphasis on social events and personal beliefs?

Next, track down and remove material that is potentially harmful, or at the least make it private, visible only to friends. Also, consider weeding out non-professional material if your pictures and personal blogs constitute most of  the top search results. It is okay to have a Facebook picture of you in a social setting available publicly, or a few shots of your pet on the web.  However, you need to make certain that personal content, such as a hundred pictures of your cats, does not overwhelm more more professional information about you.

Remember, administering your web presence is not simply preventative. Taking down divisive comments, or thinning the amount of personal photographs is part of a larger proactive strategy to ensure that the professional and positive information about you – academic honors, voluntary work – reaches the top of search engines.


Monitor your Web Presence

Once you’ve scrubbed your internet profile, you need to ensure it stays clean. I’d suggest that you conduct searches of your name at least once a month, and set up a Google Alert for your name. This way any time someone posts something about you, you’ll know right away and can take steps to ensure that it doesn’t undermine the professional image you are working to build.


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Developing Your Web Presence by Lane Sunwall is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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