How Often Do You Google Yourself?

October 30, 2013

It’s a weird question, right?  Let’s face it- we ALL do it. I know I have Google Alerts set up for my name, my company’s name, this blog’s name. You should, too.

But stalking yourself isn’t what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to chat about your brand. Yes, your brand. We all have one, and not taking care to curate one is going to cost you thousands.

As an employer, I hire people every week, and routinely do a thorough online check to make sure that our potential new employee doesn’t have a tainted past. It’s common practice to do that these days.

I’ve seen so many instances where we’ve chosen not to hire someone because of what we find online.



What’s acceptable:

There is nothing wrong with having a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Google+ or MySpace (!!) account. No one is saying that you can’t be online. In fact, we urge candidates to be visible, to network with industry heavy weights, and show that you are passionate about a topic. As such, we need to make sure that we’re okay with everything that goes out on the web.

  • Pictures of you at a conference/event? Yes.
  • You have a fashion blog that you’re proud of? Ok.
  • You talk about your online bingo loyalty program? Sure, if you want to.
  • Having a civil conversation with a brand when you have an issue? Yes

What’s not acceptable:

This is easier to define than the first part. There are a lot of things that raise a red flag. Nudity, swearing, threats are the biggies. But think twice before you post anything about a brand or person where you negatively accuse them of something without proof. Also, pay attention to anything that can be considered offensive.

The biggest red flag for a potential employer? You bashing your old employer while you were still employed there. We don’t care how bad the company is, you’re choosing to stay on their payroll.

How to clean up your profile:

I tend to keep my profiles private, and only add people that I know personally. Most people aren’t like that, and that’s their choice. If you work in PR or sales, then having a big pool of people available at your fingertips is a good thing. I, however, tend to limit access to my personal profiles to only people that I’ve actually met.

If you are going to be on multiple social media sites, try to keep your brand as neutral as possible. This is not to say that you can’t share things that you’re excited about, but knowing what’s going too far is a skill.

The most important thing is being aware of what’s out there. Google Alerts is a great solution for that.

People forget that it’s not just potential employers who Google them. Looking someone up online has became so mainstream and acceptable, that most people just instinctively research the person they are dealing with.

How to make it work for you:

The great thing about Google Alerts is that not only do you get to monitor what people are saying about you, but also what people are saying about products and services that you like and need, or your competition. Say you’re in charge of letting a property. How do you make sure that companies like CIA Landlords Insurance are on your radar? Well, you set a Google Alert for the right keywords, and the news shows up in your inbox. Yes, it really is that easy.


Be honest with yourself. You are the image that you create online, and EVERYTHING that you do has an consequence on your future. Even those times during college.

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  • Demaish @ Borrowed Cents October 30, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Good piece. I always keep my online stuff private. Even my name on Facebook is a bit twisted from my official name. And since I have been on the job market for long, and you hire people, I think you should write how us job seekers should impress you people who do the hiring. When I am turned down for a job, it is not as bad as not hearing anything about your application. And is it wise to call and enquire?

    • Marissa November 1, 2013 at 1:29 am

      It’s totally fine to email and ask about your application.

  • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial October 30, 2013 at 9:54 am

    This is a great reminder for everyone. I try to keep my personal social media stuff as private as possible – but I still need to go through my friends list on Facebook and narrow it down. Social media or not having the right online presence would be such a terrible way to mess up your chances at a new opportunity with an employer!

    • Kostas @ Finance Blog Zone October 30, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      Great article and reminder. I have to agree that my Facebook could be trimmed of people that are unnecessarily there.You never know what negativity they could bring not only to your Facebook page, but real life.

    • Marissa November 1, 2013 at 1:30 am


    • Marissa November 1, 2013 at 1:30 am

      There are certain professions where you don’t really need a digital footprint but most you do.

  • Michelle October 30, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    I always try to make sure that everything is as clean and professional as possible. Whenever I do Google my name, nothing bad pops up (or not that I know of!).

    • Marissa November 1, 2013 at 1:31 am

      That’s a great thing!

  • Erin @ My Alternate Life October 30, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    I actually Googled myself at FinCon, curious to see if anything with my blog would come up when I searched for my full name. It did, but I’ve never said anything negative about previous employers on my blog. I also don’t post crazy pictures (I wouldn’t really have any to post) on any social media networks. I’m okay with my Googled self 🙂

    • Marissa November 1, 2013 at 1:31 am

      i’m VERY cautious about what I post.

  • KK @ Student Debt Survivor October 30, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Thanks for this reminder. Just did a google search and my name didn’t show up on the first 3 pages (which I’m actually pleased about). And the place it did show up was a US News and World Report article I was quoted in. I do however show up as the first photo on google images which is a little creepy, but not incriminating in any way-it’s the photo from my blog’s “about me” page.

    • Marissa November 1, 2013 at 1:32 am

      That’s a great thing. I am the first 4 pages under my name, but nothing bad, so it’s ok.

  • Money Beagle October 31, 2013 at 11:36 am

    I do a check every few weeks on myself as well as everybody in my immediate family. I think it’s important to keep track on what is out there. One thing that makes me laugh is that there’s someone with my same name in Florida that is apparently not such a great person, and even worse at getting away with things, as there are often mug shots for various petty crimes on which he is picked up on. Luckily he bears no resemblance so that I’ve never worried about any confusion.

    • Marissa November 1, 2013 at 1:32 am

      Oh that would suck.

  • Simon @ Modest Money November 4, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Having worked sometime as a freelancer and having a profile on a couple of job boards I have certainly come to appreciate the power of the personal brand. You do everything possible to keep your profile squeaky clean and do the best by most employers to earn a good review. This has translated into the same sort of discipline in my “Googlable” life 🙂

    • Marissa November 5, 2013 at 12:12 am

      Amazing! Yes, most freelancers don’t think that way.

  • Hayley @ A Disease Called Debt November 4, 2013 at 10:21 am

    I’ve googled myself a handful of times, the only things that come up in my full name are website pages which I’ve published at my old job and another blog that I work on. Nothing too bad I think! I didn’t actually know about Google Alerts – I must look into that!

    • Marissa November 5, 2013 at 12:12 am

      Google alerts are worth checking out.

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life November 4, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    I’m in a tricky spot because my professional life as an actress and my blog life as a writer overlap in google results. Right now my writing is still on the second page of search results, but I feel like it might be confusing for people who try to google me in the future.

    • Marissa November 7, 2013 at 5:06 am

      Have you thought of a pen name?

  • Keenyn November 6, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    Very good post about your online brand. It’s definitely something people don’t think about, and it can bite them in the butt when they are applying for jobs!