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What Happens If You Are UnGoogleable?

Why it could be a problem for your career and what to do about it


(This article previously appeared on Rewire.org.)

When was the last time you Googled yourself? If it’s been a while, try it now. Here’s why: If you don’t find much, or don’t find anything, that could be a problem. Being unGoogleable probably isn’t a great idea for your career.

“If you’re looking for a job, you want to be as visible as possible and in as many places as possible,” said staffing consultant Abby Kohut of Absolutely Abby. “So being not on Google is a very big detriment if you’re looking for a job. … Even if you have a job, it would be nice for a recruiter to find you out of nowhere and offer you more money.”

But, said Hannah Morgan, job search strategist and Career Sherpa founder: “Mostly, from the people I’m seeing, it is the older people — the boomers — who say, ‘I want to keep my private life private and I don’t want to have these social networks and I don’t want anyone to find anything about me.'”

Can You Actually Escape Google?

But, adds Morgan, “being unGoogleable in 2018 is a hard thing to achieve.” If you were to look yourself up now you’d probably find at least a mention of your name from college or in the local paper or a reference to you on the website of an old workplace, she noted.

Or worse.

If there’s something about you on the Internet that you don’t want people to see, said Morgan, “the only way you can beat out that is to publish content you own, make a website or a LinkedIn profile and drive that stuff to the second or third page” of Google results.

What the Internet Means for Your Career

According to a Jobvite survey, a whopping 93 percent of employers vet job candidates on LinkedIn before an interview. And you’re much more likely to land that interview if you have an online presence, including a well-curated LinkedIn profile, said Morgan.

If a hiring manager is considering the resumés of three candidates and finds that one of them has zero information about themselves online, that manager is likely going to call in one of the two who do, Morgan pointed out.

Being absent from the Internet might even be a little suspicious to some hiring managers, depending on their preferences.

“It probably sends up red flags to some hiring managers if there’s nothing on the Internet about you now, just with the prevalence of social media,” said Jessica Hernandez, president of CEO of Great Resumes Fast.

Don’t Phone in Your LinkedIn

The experts agreed: A good LinkedIn profile is the single most important thing a job seeker can have on the Internet. If you do nothing else, go make or edit your profile on the professional networking site.

What should your LinkedIn profile look like? Well, it shouldn’t be a regurgitation of your resumé. If a potential employer is looking at your LinkedIn profile, it’s likely the company or nonprofit has already seen your resumé and is there to learn more about you.

“Employers say that without a doubt that’s where they go to find out more information,” Hernandez said. “What additional details are in your profile that tell them who you are?”

On your LinkedIn profile, fill out the awards and volunteering sections. If it’s appropriate for your field of work, indicate what organizations you’re affiliated with and what causes you’re passionate about. Add photos of projects you’ve done at your last jobs. Link to publications you’ve been published in. Blog about things you’ve learned on the job or about what you’ve been working on.

Basically, beef up your LinkedIn profile with the very best of you.

And if you don’t have any recommendations — paragraph-long testimonials about your skills and personality — ask coworkers or past bosses if they’d write one for you, Kohut said. Employers are reading them.

Having a work- or industry-related Twitter account is also a plus, she said. But if your Twitter account is completely unrelated to your career or you rarely update it, don’t link it to your job applications or your professional materials.

Make Yourself a Website

Another smart thing to do: make yourself a website. Use an easy-to-use website builder like Wix or WordPress to get you started.

The more creative of a field you’re in, the more important it is for you to have a professional website, Hernandez said. But even if you don’t work in the creative sphere, a website can be a boon. If you have a professional blog, Hernandez said, you can become a subject-matter expert.

Kohut cautioned against hiring a professional web developer to build your site for you.

“I think your site should be the best you can do,” she said. “If you get someone else to do it for you and you get hired because of it and you can’t produce the same quality of work,” that’s a problem. “That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go take classes on how to make it better, but it really should be your own work,” added Kohut.

Give Away a Little, But Not a Lot

So, if you’re going to branch out into beefing up your online presence —e ither on social media or a website of your own — what’s a good rule of thumb?

For the most part, “keep it professional, keep it about your career story and not your personal life, especially on LinkedIn,” Hernandez said.

Some positive personal information is great to share, she added. Passions or hobbies that give you dimension as an individual are worth putting on the Internet — they can give hints to how you’d fit into a workplace’s culture. That’s where the line gets a little more blurry.

“For instance, for me, teaching has been a lifelong passion,” Hernandez said. “Something like that you can share… It’s still kept in that professional framework. You’re not… saying anything negatively about your boss. That’s where you cross the line.”

By Katie Moritz

Katie Moritz is the web editor at Rewire.org, a site from public television station TPT that creates smart, fresh, original, thought-provoking content that inspires individuals to make their lives better. She formerly covered politics for a newspaper in Juneau, Alaska and helped produce the public affairs show “Almanac” at Twin Cities PBS. Reach her via email at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz and on Instagram @yepilikeit.

@katecmoritz

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