This article first appeared in the Indian publication meincmagazine.com.
In the United States, a population of just 300 million, more than 2,000 people on LinkedIn share the exact same name as criminals on the FBIs most wanted list.
In India, with 1.2 billion people, imagine how much the odds increase that an inaccurate representation of you might show up on some background check, or even just a casual Google search by a potential employer. Organizations like Price Waterhouse Cooper make googling candidates part of their standard operational procedure. Yet many serious professionals don’t take these three easy steps to regain their online identity.
Step One: Re-Brand
In the hiring process, by the time someone Googles your name chances are they’ve already seen your resume. They Google you because they want to learn more about you. They’re curious. But when they do, all kinds of versions of you show up on the results page. This can be really frustrating for a company.
Do you know who Marion Morrison is? Well, his career didn’t take off until he changed his name to John Wayne. Maybe you’ve heard of him?
Perhaps your re-brand isn’t as drastic as a full name change. Andrew V. was wrongfully accused of shoplifting and this dominated his search results. His buddies at work wouldn’t stop teasing him about the high-ranking search result. So he started using his middle initial.
When thinking about your own re-brand, maybe it’s just using a middle name or initial. Maybe it’s initialling your first name and using your middle name. Maybe your new brand includes an MBA at the end of it.
Any small change you make to your online name will help employers narrow down their search so they can learn more about the real you.
Step Two: Be the New Brand Everywhere
You can’t just update your name on your resume. The new brand needs to be everywhere online. That means you must update your LinkedIn profile name, the URL for your LinkedIn profile. If you publish anything online, like a slideshow or photographs, your new identity must be attached.
Make a list of each piece of online content out there, including profiles, files, images, videos etc. Then slowly work your way down the list updating your name.
Step Three: You Must Own Your Domain
I waited too long to buy my own domain name. Now, the person at joshuawaldman.com glibly squats on my online property unwilling to sell it to me at a decent price. Don’t let this happen to you. Buy a domain name for your name as quickly as you can.
Because of the way Google works, domain names that match search queries have a better chance or ranking. So if your name is Yogesh Kumar and your domain name is yogeshkumar.com, you’ll have a chance of ranking #1.
Domains are cheap. Services like NameCheap offer domains for less than $10, that’s Rs. 544. Not a bad price to pay to make sure your next boss get’s the right first impression of you.
If you don’t want to build a website, just sign up for about.me and redirect your domain to your about.me profile, like what I did with joshuawaldman.net.
Please leave a comment below to share your story of how you reclaimed your online identity.