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Insights from practitioners in Information Management

Issue 103 – Your Career in Reverse

Have you Googled your name recently?
Have you also Googled your name in the images section?

If you have more than 1 name (married / maiden) it’s also a good idea to check under both names.

Why would you bother apart from being a little narcissistic?

In a word (well 2 actually) background checks.

Last month we asked you to have a look at your CV to ensure what was written on this very important document accurately reflected what you do in your current (as well as previous) roles. This month we take it a little further and ask – what is the host employer going to find out about the “real” you when they start their background checks?

They will of course use the traditional methods of following up with the referees you have chosen to shine a glowing light on your skills and abilities. But they are not silly – they will be Googling your name and doing other checking as well – just as you will be doing the same thing to them when you find out who will be on the interview panel (you do do that don’t you?). The reason is simple – a bad hiring decision can cost them a lot – both in terms of money and down time. And as we all know, the bottom line is still the most important thing to a company.

Go on, get Googling, I’ll be waiting. Don’t you just love how the term “Googling” has become a verb! Sorry, that’s a bit of a transgression.

I’m very fortunate – my first 2 entries are both for Information Enterprises Australia
The Lorraine Bradshaw listed as next on Facebook isn’t me – no really it isn’t.
If I type in Lorraine Lovett (married name) you will come across my Linked In profile.

Even those who know me as Elle Bradshaw (the Elle just stands for L which of course is short for Lorraine) won’t find very much on me. The Facebook entries again are for different people.

Now I do have a problem with this as my own business doesn’t come up in the first page ? but as I do try and keep my work and my own business separate you could say I’ve succeeded. But it does make my marketing just that little bit harder. It also makes it nigh on impossible for old school friends to find me.

Why did I make it so difficult?

My user name is completely different from my name – on all my social media accounts. Is it because I have something to hide? Absolutely not, but I don’t want to be found in a random search by marketers and I’m sure you wouldn’t want the HR department of your next and potentially biggest career move yet to find you either.

If someone can be bothered to wade through my profile on Linked In of course they can find a wealth of information about me, including my website, but that does not bother me, because it is a professional network.

But what of the “other” networks?

To be honest I am horrified by some of the information available to anyone who cares to look for it. Not just those people who steal personal information for gain and identity theft.
But what we put on the sites ourselves. Full names, dates of birth, where we live, where we were born, photographs of our personal histories – complete with names and addresses of people we were with, in the picture. For people wanting to commit identity theft we have just given them the keys to the vault and they’re going shopping.

You would think that as Information Management professionals we would be a little more careful about what we divulge. But no.

Anyone reading my Twitter time line from lunch time will know I have a massive headache… but that is quite tame to what some people care to share with the world. I consider these status updates to be postcards to the world. Once they are sent out – believe me you can no more delete this information than you can prevent the banks from raising interest rates (oooh) when they want.

Consider this as a thought for today

Your social media profiles are YOUR VITAL RECORDS

Would you deliberately leave passports and bank account details on a park bench for a stranger to pick up? So, why do some people insist on sharing the intimate details of everything to anyone?

You may not be aware, but there are several initiatives underway to archive the entire Twitter stream – that means every comment, every post, every link – can be searched. Am I saying Twitter is a bad thing? Not at all, I love it. As a marketing tool it’s amazing. If you use it properly that is.

And the other giant – Facebook?

Well, that too can be a useful marketing tool if you choose to use it properly. The problem is of course, most people don’t.

What can you do to clean up your online presence – should you need to?

If you haven’t Googled your name yet, please do so – make a note of where your name appears and if you are happy with the information that is there. If not, contact the site owner and ask for the material to be removed. It may stay in cache for a while, but over time it will be overwritten. But consider these things to be like toothpaste (once out of the tube it’s almost impossible to get back in).

Ensure nothing “bad” goes on in future. Does that mean you have to be squeaky clean? Well it would be nice, but consider using a pseudonym for family and friends stuff and save your “name” for your profession.

With Facebook, the new timeline does give you a chance to go through the mammoth history that is your public life and you can remove posts, status updates and pictures you don’t want to see on your timeline. You can also un tag yourself. And if you don’t think this stuff will come back and bite you, then you haven’t been reading the papers in recent years.

But a couple of – for examples:

1.    People have been fired for status posts on Facebook;
2.    People have been fired for misrepresenting themselves on Linked In; and
3.    Job offers have been withdrawn

Which is something to think about.

But why the title of this newsletter.

At the end of your career – what would you like it to say on the social media websites (assuming they’re still around of course) and of course what would you hope to find written about you on the Internet?