If a hiring manager were to Google your name right now, what would come up?
According to a recent study by Domain.Me, more than half the population can't answer that question.
That's a pretty alarming statistic, considering that 77 percent of recruiters Google their candidates before they even decide to call them in for an interview.
Whether you're actively seeking a job or looking to climb the corporate ladder at your current company, proactively monitoring your digital footprint could mean the difference between whether or not you land your dream job or get that promotion.
Stop Googling celebs and cat videos... Start paying attention to the search results populated by your own name.
Here are a few ways to clean up your digital footprint and maintain a professional online image.
1. Google yourself right now
You can't know where to start if you don't know what you're up against. But chances are you're going to find something that needs to be fixed. Only 22% of those who Googled themselves found that the information that appears is exactly what they want people to know. In fact, 20% found outdated or inaccurate details about themselves, and 8% actually found reputation damaging information about them on the internet. Pretty scary, right?
2. Set up professional profiles
If you don't have a LinkedIn or Twitter account, now is the time to hop on the bandwagon. Both of these social sites are SEO giants that will populate to the top of your name's search results. This gives you an opportunity to present yourself in a professional way, and allows you to have some control over what potential employers see when they Google you. Use your Twitter account to share content pertaining to your professional field, which will help to position you as a thought leader in your discipline. Make sure your LinkedIn includes your most up-to-date information, and connect with past and present colleagues who can endorse your skills and write recommendations on your behalf.
3. Triple check your privacy settings
A whopping 68% of employers check the Facebook pages of job applicants. When was the last time you updated your privacy settings on Facebook? Even if you've done so recently, the change might not be retroactive to your posts and photos from years ago. If the thought of untagging and deleting all those less than savory college photos is too much to bear, update your privacy settings, then have a friend unfriend you to see how your account appears in order to make sure all is hidden.
Bonus points if you check your privacy settings on Linkedin--remember, if you're not listed as "anonymous" in your privacy settings for Linkedin, people know when you've been creeping on their profile.
4. Monitor your footprint
Even after you've done a major cleanup of your online presence, it's still important to keep an eye on what's being associated with your name. For example, 1 in 3 people who searched themselves discovered that other people share their name, and therefore influence the content associated with them. Meaning, some middle schooler with your same name and a blog about One Direction could be influencing your name's search results. To keep tabs on this, sites like BrandYourself give you a glimpse into how you appear in the eyes of an employer.
Over 40,000 Google searches are done each second -- on every topic imaginable. So why have more than half of us failed to complete the one search that could change the course of our lives?
Your digital footprint has the power to bring you a step closer to your career goals--and your reputation shows up in your bank account... So next time you're on the job hunt, remember: your reputation is just a Google search away.