So what does the Internet think of you? Here’s a simple way to find out. Go to the Personas website (http://personas.media.mit.edu/), an online art installation that trawls through the Web looking for your name, and dredging up whatever dirt it finds. It then breaks it all up into words and phrases that are associated with your online persona.
If all it takes is typing in your name on a website to dig up some potentially embarrassing online escapades (photos, old blog posts), it makes sense, then, to polish your online presence and make sure to manage your “reputation” on the Internet.
Search engine site Google offers some basic suggestions on improving search results for yourself. In a blog post on the official Google Blog, webmaster Susan Moskwa writes, “The first step in reputation management is pre-emptive: Think twice before putting your personal information online. Remember that although something might be appropriate for the context in which you’re publishing it, search engines can make it very easy to find that information later, out of context…” That’s because search engines are only a reflection of content already existing elsewhere on the Internet. They don’t “see” the content as a whole, but merely as a set of keywords.
Removing something, therefore, from a search engine’s results is not the same as removing the source of the content. According to Google India, “It’s extremely crucial for job seekers to be cognizant of what they post online and if they do, they should try to make it interesting and compelling so that people link to it.” This prudence also extends to profiles you maintain on job or social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
“To maintain a positive professional reputation, the basic element that a job seeker needs to keep in mind is to keep their email IDs and phone numbers (on these profiles) verified and updated,” says Sumeet Singh, national head for marketing at Info Edge Ltd, which owns job site Naukri.com. In profiles on the site, she says, “the resumé headline, key skills and designation of the job seeker should be comprehensive, precise and match the attached resumé document on Naukri. These in combination with regular updates in the profile help job seekers maintain a healthy reputation and get noticed by recruiters.”