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Go Google Yourself

Go Google Yourself
By Leigh Goldie

Raise your hand, how many of you have Googled yourselves recently? I knew it – you haven’t! I believe you should do it right now. Why, you ask? Because that’s what other people are doing to learn more about you. Shouldn’t you be the one who controls what anyone sees and discovers about you when searching online?

Looking for a job, hiring a new employee, meeting new people, and finding classmates for a reunion are simply a few of the reasons people may be googling your name.

What will they find? Type in your name and many things will come up: Your Facebook account, your Twitter account, and any other social networking accounts, all of your pictures and personal profiles full of your personal information that Internet Search Engines have collected about you. If you are job searching, employers will Google your name to discover what you are up to online. Not just professionally on sites like LinkedIn, but personally as well. You need to carefully monitor what you say online because even though you are tweeting with just your friends, everyone can read it and make professional decisions simply based on what you have posted.

To discover exactly what information I could find out there, I Googled a good friend from high school. I found his address, phone number, family members, where he went to school, the value of his house, a variety of activities that he participates in currently, petitions he has signed, and donations he has made. All public information! But he’s also a quiet guy who doesn’t participate in online social networking sites, so I didn’t find the pictures I expected. That was surprising, as I know I would have found more information about him easily if he did have a social networking account.

Google a college student you know. Are they keeping their online profile professional or are they simply posting anything and everything they are doing? While it may be fun to tweet with your friends, it is public information. When these friends graduate and go out searching for a permanent job, will anything they have posted stop them from getting it? Or will it stop them from wooing customers if they choose to start a business? They should definitely check it out before it comes back to haunt them.

What would I have found if I had Googled you? Check it out now and find ways to delete any unwanted information that you discover. Taking a proactive stance in your online profile will help you now and for years to come.

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Christina O’Neill has been working in the information security field for 3 years. She is a board member for the Northern Ohio InfraGard Members Alliance and a committee member for the Information Security Summit, a conference held once a year for information security and physical security professionals.

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