5 Painless Steps to Controlling Your Online Rep

Many job-seekers underestimate how important it is to have an online presence--a digital footprint to help convince potential hiring managers that they are right for the job. There is no question a person's online reputation makes a big difference for job-search success. But ironically, the worst outcome of having a recruiter search for you on the Web would be if he or she found nothing at all.

In a digital age, having nothing listed in Google is the equivalent of wearing an invisibility cloak; that may work for Harry Potter, but it doesn't do anything to help a job-seeker whose main priority is being found.

It may surprise candidates who make a habit of protecting their online privacy stringently to know that a Google search fails to reveal results. Someone who wants to learn about a candidate and finds no obvious results may be inclined to use search tools that offer access to the "deep Web,"or "invisible Web." Pipl.com--a site that provides such access, explains, "The term 'deep web' refers to a vast repository of underlying content, such as documents in online databases that general-purpose web crawlers cannot reach. The deep web content is estimated at 500 times that of the surface web, yet has remained mostly untapped due to the limitations of traditional search engines."

There are two types of information available online: data posted by a candidate, and things someone else posts about him or her. Think of the former as a "digital footprint" and the latter as a "digital shadow." Don't let a shadow dictate what employers will find out. Why? Because it gives control to someone else, which can be dangerous.

For example, Patrick Ambron, the chief executive officer and co-founder of BrandYourself.com, shared a story about Cody, who was applying to law schools without success. A Google search of his name revealed a post created by an ex-girlfriend that contained embarrassing, unflattering comments. Since Cody didn't have other information online to combat one person's vendetta against him, admissions officers were left with questions about his character.

Even if a job-seeker has no enemies, it does not prevent an unflattering digital shadow from clouding his candidacy. It's not uncommon to share a name with other people. When this happens online, it is known as a "digital doppelganger." Some people find themselves unwittingly implicated by unflattering accounts about their doppelgangers.

For example, one highly qualified job-seeker received no replies to his applications. After consulting with an online-savvy friend who suggested he Google his own name, the job-seeker found out that his digital doppelganger was charged with murder. Any prospective hiring manager could find this information, but nothing about the job-seeker. It wasn't until he created a social resume using HisName.com and filling in his own professional information that he began to land interviews. Upon greeting him, the job-seeker's first interviewer said, "So, I guess you're not the murderer."

So what can someone do to regain control of an unflattering or nonexistent online identity? Ambron suggests these five steps:

1. Google yourself. This is crucial, because it's impossible to know what could negatively affect your reputation. Ambron explains, "Most people find that the top search results for their name fall into three categories: negative, irrelevant, and 'Hey, that's not me.'" All three of these results can damage someone's reputation.

2. Claim your domain name and build a personal website. Owning Yourname.com and other versions of a personal URL, such as YourName.org, will give you more control of your online identity. It's easy to do, and domain names usually cost no more than $10 a year.

Why is this important? Ambron notes, "These URLs show up high in searches for your name. Even if you're not planning to create a personal website, you'll prevent others from buying the domain and hijacking Google search results for you."

Owning the domain is a first step, but using it to create a site that highlights professional information is key for anyone who wants to control their online identity. Ideally, the website will be highly optimized, presenting a professional picture of the candidate.

3. Set up profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Ideally, capture online "handles," or user names that include your actual name. For example, use "Patrick Ambron, not Pattyboy22," Ambron notes. "Search engines tend to rank social networks' links high, so you should definitely have a presence on them. Even if you don't plan on using your accounts much, it keeps other people from hijacking search results of your name."

Posting updates frequently via social media sites is an excellent way to let search engines know what you want them to find out about you. Doing so creates that digital footprint that is so important for your online presence.

4. Do some basic search engine optimization. In addition to using your own name in online monikers, Ambron reminds job-seekers to "Link all your various pieces of online content to one another. Include a link to YourName.com on your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles. Add links back to your social media profiles on YourName.com. Taking these steps gives your content a huge boost in search engine rankings."

5. Sign up for alerts. It's important to keep up-to-date on which Google indexes could affect you. Ambron suggests starting a Google alert, which will send an email when your name (whether it's you or your digital doppelganger) appears in a news article or blog post. He notes, "Socialmention.com also provides alerts that will inform you when your name pops up in a tweet or is tagged in a photo on Flickr or Facebook."

Job-seekers who take charge of their own online reputations will benefit in the long run.

Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success.

Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success.

More From US News & World Report


Get stories like this on the Yahoo app and discover more every day.
Download it now.
  • NATO says Aleppo attacks 'blatant violation of international law'
    NATO says Aleppo attacks 'blatant violation of international law' AFP News - 9 minutes ago

    NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday the "morally totally unacceptable" bombardment of the Syrian city of Aleppo broke international law, and urged Russia to take genuine steps to restore a ceasefire. "The appalling attacks on Aleppo have shaken … More »

  • StanChart refers alleged corruption at Indonesian firm to authorities
    StanChart refers alleged corruption at Indonesian firm to authorities Reuters - 10 minutes ago

    Standard Chartered (STAN.L) has referred allegations of impropriety at an Indonesian power company that the bank's private equity arm invested in to the appropriate authorities, the bank said on Tuesday. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported the … More »

  • Turkey dismisses 87 spy agency staff over failed coup
    Turkey dismisses 87 spy agency staff over failed coup AFP News - 12 minutes ago

    Turkey has dismissed 87 staff from its spy agency over alleged links to the failed July 15 coup, state media said Tuesday, in the first purge of one of the country's most powerful institutions. National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) has suspended … More »

  • Britain's first U.S. shale gas delivery arrives in Scotland Reuters - 21 minutes ago

    Britain's first shale gas delivery from the United States arrived to the sound of a lone piper on Tuesday morning as political debate about its controversial fracking method of extraction swirled both north and south of the Scottish border. … More »

  • Philippines suspends 20 mines for environmental violations Associated Press - 26 minutes ago

    Philippine officials say they have ordered the suspension of 20 more mines, mostly nickel producers, for environmental violations, threatening to tighten supply from the world's top nickel ore exporter. ... … More »

  • Clinton boosted by debate as candidates rally support
    Clinton boosted by debate as candidates rally support AFP News - 26 minutes ago

    Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton jumped back onto the campaign trail Tuesday after a bitter first head-to-head debate in which Clinton frequently forced her prickly opponent on to the back foot. The White House hopefuls sparred over temperament, … More »

  • Oil prices slip as hopes for a deal in Algiers fade
    Oil prices slip as hopes for a deal in Algiers fade Reuters - 29 minutes ago

    Crude oil futures fell on Tuesday as optimism faded for an output-limiting deal from an oil producer meeting in Algeria that has so far failed to yield any agreement to curb one of the worst supply gluts in history. Saudi Arabia on Tuesday dashed … More »

  • AOL chief Tim Armstrong on the ‘concerning’ Yahoo hack and how he’s convincing workers not to leave post-acquisition
    AOL chief Tim Armstrong on the ‘concerning’ Yahoo hack and how he’s convincing workers not to leave post-acquisition Business Insider - 32 minutes ago

    John Lamparski/Getty Images AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong … Continued The post AOL chief Tim Armstrong on the ‘concerning’ Yahoo hack and how he’s convincing workers not to leave post-acquisition appeared first on Business Insider. … More »

  • Saudis, Iran dash hopes for OPEC oil deal in Algeria
    Saudis, Iran dash hopes for OPEC oil deal in Algeria Reuters - 33 minutes ago

    Saudi Arabia and Iran on Tuesday dashed hopes that OPEC oil producers could clinch an output-limiting deal in Algeria this week as sources within the exporter group said the differences between the kingdom and Tehran remained too wide. "This is a … More »

  • German companies share success stories of their Malaysian ventures Business Times - 34 minutes ago

    BERLIN: German companies have given the thumbs-up to the incentives rolled out by Malaysia, saying they have provided support to their investment story abroad. Jan J.Schmidt-Krayer, who is managing partner of Schmidt + Clemens, said the tax … More »

  • Germany blocks WhatsApp data transfers to Facebook AFP - 36 minutes ago

    German data protection authorities on Tuesday said they had blocked Facebook from collecting subscriber data from its subsidiary WhatsApp, citing privacy concerns. Facebook and WhatsApp promised in the ... … More »

  • WTO cuts 2016 world trade growth forecast to 1.7 percent, cites wake-up call
    WTO cuts 2016 world trade growth forecast to 1.7 percent, cites wake-up call Reuters - 37 minutes ago

    The World Trade Organization cut its forecast for global trade growth this year by more than a third on Tuesday, reflecting a slowdown in China and falling levels of imports into the United States. The new figure of 1.7 percent, down from the WTO's … More »

  • Schaeuble stirs interest rates debate ahead of Draghi visit
    Schaeuble stirs interest rates debate ahead of Draghi visit Reuters - 41 minutes ago

    German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble called on Tuesday for urgent structural reforms to spur growth to end the era of low interest rates, a day before lawmakers will grill ECB President Mario Draghi about his loose monetary policy. In a guest … More »

  • Singapore urged to get tougher on money-laundering
    Singapore urged to get tougher on money-laundering AFP News - 42 minutes ago

    Singapore must take more aggressive action against complex cross-border money-laundering including prosecuting individuals and seizing illicit proceeds, a global financial crimes watchdog said Tuesday. The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force … More »

  • Clinton-fuelled stocks rally fades in Europe
    Clinton-fuelled stocks rally fades in Europe AFP News - 45 minutes ago

    European stocks fell Tuesday on a fading rally triggered by Hillary Clinton's upbeat performance in the first US presidential debate over Republican rival Donald Trump. The London stock market shed 0.3 percent, Frankfurt was down 0.9 percent and … More »

  • Gold down as dollar and stocks gain after U.S. debate
    Gold down as dollar and stocks gain after U.S. debate Reuters - 48 minutes ago

    Gold fell on Tuesday as the dollar and stocks gained ground on the view that U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton got the better of rival Donald Trump in their first debate. Markets have tended to see Clinton as the candidate of the status … More »

  • France unlikely to achieve 2017 deficit target - fiscal watchdog Reuters - 49 minutes ago

    France is unlikely to meet its 2017 budget deficit target, the country's independent fiscal watchdog said on Tuesday, casting doubt on the government's plan to cut the shortfall to less than 3 percent of output. The High Council of Public Finance's … More »

  • FactSet misses Street 4Q forecasts Associated Press - 49 minutes ago

    The Norwalk, Connecticut-based company said it had net income of $3.55 per share. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains, came to $1.69 per share. The results missed Wall Street expectations. The average ... … More »

  • Time Out to run food and drink markets in London and Porto Reuters - 51 minutes ago

    Time Out, best known for its listings magazines, said on Tuesday it was close to setting up its own food and drink markets in London and Porto, after the British firm's first such venture attracted more than a million visitors in Lisbon. Chief … More »

  • Hate standing in line? Japan now has self-driving chairs
    Hate standing in line? Japan now has self-driving chairs AFP News - 1 hour 4 minutes ago

    Japanese carmaker Nissan claims to have just the thing for those sore legs. A company video released Tuesday re-enacts a busy restaurant with patrons waiting outside. The system, which is similar to the kind used in Nissan's autonomous vehicle … More »

  • Sing Development-Wee Hur Development joint venture tops bid for Sengkang site
    Sing Development-Wee Hur Development joint venture tops bid for Sengkang site The Edge Property - 1 hour 9 minutes ago

    A total of 14 bids were received at the close of the public tender on September 27 for the 99-year leasehold Fernvale Road site. The winning bid came from a partnership of Sing Development and Wee Hur Development with an offer of $287.1 million, or … More »

  • BRIEF-Eco World Development Group says qtrly net profit 44.6 million RGT Reuters - 1 hour 19 minutes ago

    Sept 27 (Reuters) - Eco World Development Group Bhd * Qtrly revenue 727.3 million RGT versus 454.3 million RGT; qtrly net profit 44.6 million RGT versus 9.4 million RGT Source text ( http://bit.ly/2cZZ4Jv ... … More »

  • Siemens trims job cut plans for unit in Germany Reuters - 1 hour 21 minutes ago

    Siemens (SIEGn.DE) has agreed with labour representatives to cut 1,700 jobs in Germany, fewer than originally planned, as part of a restructuring of its Process Industries and Drives unit, which has been hit by weak demand from the oil and gas … More »

  • Britain says economy needs an infrastructure upgrade after political drama Reuters - 1 hour 31 minutes ago

    LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's economy needs an infrastructure and vocational education upgrade to deliver stability to businesses after months of political drama including the vote to leave the European ... … More »

  • Markit reports 3Q loss Associated Press - 1 hour 49 minutes ago

    On a per-share basis, the London-based company said it had a loss of 9 cents. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to 45 cents per share. The results surpassed Wall Street expectations. ... … More »

Recent Quotes
Symbol Price Change % Chg 
Your most recently viewed tickers will automatically show up here if you type a ticker in the "Enter symbol/company" at the bottom of this module.
You need to enable your browser cookies to view your most recent quotes.
to view quotes in your portfolios.


  • Most Actives
    Most Actives
    NamePriceChange% Chg
  • % Gainers
    % Gainers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
  • % Losers
    % Losers
    NamePriceChange% Chg

Market Data

  • Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
  • Commodities
    NamePriceChange% Chg
  • Bonds
    TreasuryYield (%)Yield Change