Ego Surfing or Smart Self-Defense

WorkCoachCafeI recently asked someone contemplating a job search if he had Googled himself recently. He responded rather scornfully that he didn’t have time for “ego surfing.” He had better things to do.

Interesting reaction. Not uncommon. And SO wrong!  

Even if you have lived a perfect, blameless life, you need to know what Google (Bing, Yahoo!, etc.) show the world associated with your name… Because it might not always be about YOU!

Googling Yourself Is NOT always “Ego Surfing”!

Think how many times in a day or a week you Google something – maybe to find the definition of a word, check the news or the TV listings for the next day.  

AND –  to check out reviews of a product or service you are thinking of buying. 

Which is exactly what a potential employer does when they are thinking of hiring someone. They Google (and/or Bing and/or Yahoo!) that person’s name to see what they find about the person before they waste anymore valuable time on that candidate.

So, if you are applying for jobs – or, even if you are just thinking about applying for jobs – you need to know what Google shows a potential employer when they Google you. And, to be smart, you should check Bing and Yahoo, too.

Googling Yourself Is Smart Self-Defense

Nearly 80% of the time (according to a 2009 study), employers do online research about job applicants before considering them for an opportunity or calling them in for an interview. What they find in the search results determines whether or not they call.

You need to know what employers find, because – 

you cannot address a problem you don’t know you have.

I recommend that job seekers Google (Bing, etc.) themselves at least once a month, and once a week is better.

2 Important Facts About Employers

Understand two basic facts about employers who are hiring new employees:

1.  Employers do not want to hire “problems.” 

The whole hiring process is very expensive, both in money and in staff time.  Employers want someone who will be good to work with, honest, trustworthy, and hard-working.  They want to avoid hiring someone who could be a potential “problem” – avoiding issues with employee misbehavior, legal problems and/or negative publicity. Plus, avoiding the expense of going through the process of hiring a replacement!

If the job has anything to do with children, people who are ill or otherwise somewhat defenseless, money, or access to sensitive information, the searches performed will be MUCH deeper than the first page or two of search results.  

2.  Employers will probably not take the time to verify that the “bad person” is not the applicant.

An employer doing a search on your name won’t know the scofflaw (or other person disqualified based on negative Google visibility) who shares your name is NOT you. And, they probably won’t have (or take) the time to figure out that it’s not you. They will just move on to the next candidate.

Smart Self-Defense for Job Seekers

Sticking your head in the sand, ignoring the possibility that bad stuff could be found, is not a productive option.  In fact, ignoring your online reputation could make your job search longer and more difficult.

Practice “Defensive Googling

At least once a month, search Google on your name. You are looking for two things:

  1. What search results are about you.
  2. What search results are not about you.

Find out if you have a problem. You may need to find a “clean name” to use for your job search and professional profiles – monitor and manage your online reputation.

Don’t let someone else’s bad behavior – or bad luck – damage your job search prospects.

More About Online Reputation Management

Why Submitting a Resume Is Not Enough and What You Can Do About It

You Are Being Watched (and Judged!)

Defensive Googling (

Monitor and Manage Your Online Reputation

© Copyright, 2013, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.


About the author…

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been  observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then.  Susan also edits and publishes  Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on .

Speak Your Mind