Skip to content Skip to footer

The Key to Survive Being Googled by Potential Employers


“There is a new résumé in town, and it’s called Google,” writes Richard N. Bolles in his book What Color Is Your Parachute?.

It’s not a surprise that employers look at your online presence before deciding on whether or not to invite you for an interview. It’s their way of making sure that your digital identity backs up the qualifications on your résumé. Employers invest in you when they invite you for an interview and so they want to make sure that they are inviting the right candidate.

While traditional background checks still exist, Google searches often hold even more weight. Why? Information about a person concealed in a formal background check isn’t usually seen by the general public, and therefore doesn’t reflect as negatively on the companies or individuals who choose to interact with them. But, in the digital age, a person’s identity is intertwined with their online presence. Public information (such as the first few pages of search results) doesn’t just determine how you look. Negative information about you that is available to the general public also reflects on anyone who chooses to tie themselves to you, especially a potential employer.

Many employers are turning to online searches to help them vet job applicants. With a tough job market, it’s crucial that job seekers learn how to not only pass this initial screening, but how to make sure their search results wow employers and get them past the interview round.

As Kelli B. Grant recently wrote in her Wall Street Journal article “Meet Your Digital Doppelgänger,” in most cases, someone else with your name will show up in your Google results. Most employers may not put in enough time and effort to differentiate you from the other person. This can be bad for several reasons, especially if the other person is having an unprofessional image or being unqualified for the job you’re seeking.

Online Mistaken Identity

Being mistaken for others can harm your online reputation. You owe it to yourself as a job seeker to make sure that when potential employers search for you online, the find the right kinds of results.

A recent survey by CareerBuilder stated that almost seven (7) in ten (10) employers admit to performing online searches on job candidates. These employers expect you to know you will be Googled. If you’re not making an effort to clean up your online image, you’re basically saying, “I don’t care”. Would you ever turn in a résumé or cover letter without proofing it?

What are recruiters looking for when they conduct online searches on individuals before deciding whether to offer them interviews? — Evidence of involvement in business networks and community projects? Examples of success at work, college or on the sports field? Or are they simply trying to tool themselves with a few choice examples from dodgy websites that will do nothing but cause discomfort for an already nervous candidate?

Good interviewers, like good candidates, take time to do some research on the person or people they are planning to meet. Research by ExecuNet, a leading executive job search and recruiting network, showed that 77% of recruiters said they used search engines to find background data on candidates. Additionally, 35% admitted they eliminated a candidate because of what they found online. The survey also quizzed job candidates and found that 82% expected recruiters to check out their names on a search engine, yet only 33% bothered to search for information on themselves, to see what their prospective employer might find out.

Before you Submit your Next Job Application

Have you Googled yourself?
  • By Googling yourself you will be able to see what potential employers will see about you online. When you see your Google search results think like a professional, ask yourself, “Would I hire myself?”.
  • When you Google yourself while logged into your Google account, you’ll get personalized search results. To get a more accurate version of your Google résumé, log out of your Google account. Then open a private browsing window, like Incognito in Google Chrome. The search results you’ll get will be more like what an employer will see.
  • Do a search for your name in other major search engines as well (Bing, Yahoo, Ask, even YouTube).
  • Conduct the search with a variety of options, including with and without quotation marks, with and without your city or state, and with and without your industry or last employer.
  • Ask a trusted friend or family member to search you online and see if they find anything they think you should be aware of.
Do you have a common name or the same name as someone with a strong online presence (good or bad)?
  • Get creative in clarifying your true identity by choosing the best version of your name for professional purposes.
  • Try using variations of your name, such as: adding your middle initial or full middle name, or using your legal name rather than a shortened version, or including your maiden name as a middle initial or hyphenated last name.
  • If you end up having to use a variation for your professional name, make sure you use it consistently on your résumé, cover letter, email signature, social media accounts, blogging username, website “About Me” page, etc.
Do you have anything online that could be perceived as inappropriate for your job search prospects?
  • The fact of the matter is, you probably won’t get a chance to defend whatever is discovered about you, so if anything could even be perceived as inappropriate, you should make an effort to get rid of it. This goes for photos, articles you’ve written, comments you’ve made on other blogs or social media, and your affiliations with other people or associations.
  • It’s obvious that if an employer discovers inappropriate or compromising information about you during an online search, your chances of getting the position are at risk.

How to Survive being Googled by Potential Employers

Digital Reputation Certificate

Digital Reputation has developed a technology that allows you to control what your potential employer should identify with you online. The self-service technology features a Digital Reputation Certificate, generated after intensive keyword searches and reputation analysis. The certificate contains your online presence, sentiment summary, reputation summary and score.

Recruiters and employers with a verifier account at Digital Reputation, can view the results of your Certificate Profile once they verify the certificate using its serial number. They will be able to see your search results – as you have identified – (including your social media accounts) that they can associate with you, without necessarily having to do a manual online search for themselves.

Digital Reputation Certificate vs Google Résumé
Your Digital Reputation Certificate informs your employer about your online presence.

The Digital Reputation Certificate can be viewed as an online portfolio of your immediate search results (first pages of search results) with a summary of your reputation based on the results. With this certificate you, the job seeker, control what your potential employer should related with you online.

We all have an online presence. Even if you intentionally stay off social media or don’t think there is any press about you or our business, you still can’t avoid producing a digital footprint. Every piece of data about you online contributes to your overall online reputation. Your digital footprint includes posts, history, search results, comments and shares, and even actions taken on websites. While a Google Search that yields negative results can have adverse effects on your life, a positive digital reputation can significantly improve your life. By embracing Digital Reputation’s technology, you can positively affect both your professional and personal online reputation.