I’m very aware of the fact that potential employers can easily Google my name as a sort of introductory level background check. As I send out my applications, what will they find?
I’m not sure why I haven’t noticed this before, but a search for my name as “Chad Haefele” does not bring up Hidden Peanuts until page 2 of the Google results. Perhaps I haven’t used my last name enough on the site. My natural inclination is to hide personally trackable information online. But maybe in the case of this site, where I’m trying to establish a professional reputation, calls for different rules.
Despite not bringing up this site, all of the page 1 Google results, except one, are for the correct ‘version’ of me. I have a somewhat uncommon name, so this isn’t surprising. However, a couple of them are rather odd results. Perhaps foolishly, I used my real name in an online game tied in to the release of Halo 2 last fall. I made it onto a couple of sites related to the game, and will probably be out there to be found for a while yet. While there’s nothing too embarassing in the pages in question, they aren’t first sites I want a potential employer seeing.
Is this something we should be teaching college students? Or high school? Even younger? Everyone makes youthful indiscretions now and then – kids growing up in this hyper-connected era need to be aware that on the Internet, publication is often forever. As the old saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. And carefully crafting your apparent personality and participation online could be a big part of it.
Interestingly, if you have a generic name like “Bob Smith” this is probably a non-issue; there’s no way to make yourself stand out to Google from such a large crowd.