There’s been a lot of good conversation about digital dirt – this is the concept of “what bad stuff can be found about you by performing online searches?” Idealists say that just because an employer finds something bad it shouldn’t matter – after all, isn’t it discriminating (and thus illegal) to use digital dirt to keep from hiring you?
I’m not a lawyer but I’d guess it can be illegal (probably is). Here’s my take: there are lots of illegal or unethical things that happen behind closed doors. Just because it isn’t legal for an employer to discriminate against you based on digital dirt doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. So keep it clean.
Furthermore, you should do searches on your name to see what comes up. Here’s how you do it:
- Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.
Looks like this is getting to be a trend that has picked up steam. From TechCrunch today:
People search is a space that went from nowhere to crowded, fast. Wink changed direction and launched a people search product last November. Also in this space is Streakr (yet to launch), ProfileLinker, LinkedIn, ZoomInfo and Upscoop.
Want to take more control of what comes up when people search on you? The last time I posted on this topic I was introduced to Naymz (thanks Kent). There are services that claim to help clean up digital dirt, for a price. But I think there is one easy, effective way to get the job done: have a blog.
(start broken record player)
Yep, having an active blog may be the most effective way to claim the majority of search results when people are looking for information about you. When I started blogging almost a year ago the only results for “Jason Alba” where from the author of an accounting book, or for Alba Botanicals. Now the first page is usually about me and/or JibberJobber.
Other things to do to take over that first page of results:
- Get an Emurse.com account, and create your resume on their site. I see a lot of people that have their Emurse profile in the top 5 results on their name. Hat tip to Nadine Turner for doing her own testing/reporting of this.
- Get a Jobster account, and flesh it out. Search engines also love Jobster, and profiles usually score on the first page of results.
- Get a LinkedIn account, and flesh it out. Again, LinkedIn profiles usually show on the first page.
- Comment on other blogs and leave your “link” as any of the three that I just mentioned (preferably leave your blog URL but if you don’t have one then you should leave one of these three URLs). Many blogs don’t pass your link on to search engines (this is not a technical explanation… click here for more), but I think we’ll see a trend where blogs are more loving and let search engines see your link.
Michael Arrington (of TechCrunch) calls this space “people search.” Don’t think that a resume, cover letter and good interview will preclude you from someone doing a search on you.
How does your online persona look?