Egosurfing (also Googling yourself, vanity searching, egosearching, egogoogling, autogoogling, self-googling) is the practice of searching for one’s own name, or pseudonym on a popular search engine in order to review the results.
Social media is a powerful indicator of how you’re perceived by people you may or may not know. Ego surfing is a great exercise and habit to get into so you’re never caught unaware when someone (particularly a hiring manager or recruiter) checks you out online.
Since the best defense is a good offense, find out what is available online related to your name. If you don’t know about it, you won’t be able to address it.
When you do know about it, you can differentiate yourself from the individual(s) with the problem.
1. Search Google (and Bing) on the name(s) you have been using in your resumes, job applications, and other job search documents.
You need to know if someone who has the same name you have is causing you a problem in your job search to avoid using that version of your name. To search - Type the name you usually use on your resume into a Google (or Bing) search bar with quotation marks around it, like this:
“First name Last name”
Enclosing your name within quotation marks tells Google and Bing that you want those words in a phrase, side-by-side. Otherwise, the search engines will show you results where those two words appear anywhere on the same webpage, regardless of how far apart or unrelated in context. If you typically include your middle initial, middle name, or some other configuration, search for that version of your name.
2. Carefully study the first 10 pages of search results.
Look for anything negative that an employer would see associated with your name (even if it is NOT about you). This could include photos and videos as well as standard web pages, blog posts, comments on blog posts, news items, public records (like court dockets), and other information readily available online.
If you find something inappropriate associated with your name – something that would make an employer put your resume in the “reject” pile rather than the “possible” pile – you have a potential problem.
The problem could be someone with your name who has been arrested for drunk driving, posted inappropriate photos of themselves in social media, been accused of being a tax cheat, contributed racist, sexist, or other nasty “*ist” comments on blogs, or hundreds of other things.
If that entry is on the 8th page, and moving down toward the 9th, it may not be a big issue. But if it is on the first page or the second page, pay close attention. Monitor that entry. You need to find a version of your name without something bad associated with it.
3. Continue to search using different variations of your name until you find a “clean” version.
A clean version of your name doesn’t have anything negative – from anyone – associated with it, but it is still your real name. Check all the versions of your name you can think of – with your middle name or middle initial, etc.
4. Use the clean version of your name for your job search.
Pick one, clean version of your name, and use it consistently for your job search.
- Cover Letters
- Email address
- Email signature
- LinkedIn Profile
- Business/networking cards
- Job applications
- Anything else related to job search
Keep everything “in sync” particularly in relation to your LinkedIn Profile.
5. Set up a Google Alert on all versions of your name, including the “clean” version.
Keep track of what is happening to your clean name in case someone else using that name does something that makes it unusable.
Google Alerts are free and will notify you when something new associated with the name appears in Google search results.