Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Google Challenge

I completely agree with some of the comments on a recent post that Googling your name should not produce anything you don't want a potential employer to see. However, I have a couple of questions for general consumption (one of which probably applies only to me, but hey...)

1. Should you be concerned if a Google search turns up nothing about you? I.e., if there aren't any web pages that actually refer to you (or there are only a few)? Is it actually a benefit to have Google hits, or is it just not a downside if you have good ones?

2. (related to above) Assuming one would like to have lots of good hits, what do you do if you happen to share a name with someone much more famous than you are (or for some other reason it's difficult for you to show up on a Google search)? I, for example, have the same name (down to the spelling and middle name) as a famous author. So a Google search for most versions of my name reveals almost exclusively sites related to her and her work, not to me and mine (not that I have a lot of hits anyway). The only way I've been able to get anything related to me to come up is by putting in my name plus a couple of keywords related to my resume.


Should I be concerned about my lack of Google hits? Or rejoice that I don't have to worry about it?

10 comments:

Pablo Achard said...

I'm happy to see the conversation continuing. :-)

In the job search process, I don't see your situation as a handicap, quite the opposite. Not having your pages popping up in a request for your name is annoying if old friends or colleagues want to contact you. But if you apply for a job and your employer googles your name, she won't blame you if this Famous Guy comes first. Same thing if you are one of the 10000 John Smith on earth.

Anyway you should still try to google your name + an obvious keyword (like "Tom Cruise MIT" if this is your name and current employer) to see what comes out.

Now if you DO want to have your webpage being easy to find you can have a look at some recommendations I wrote in comments of my previous post. If the Famous Guy is Tom Cruise, this is probably hopeless. If s/he's famous-but-not-that-much then you have a chance but you'll have to work it hard: make your own webpage(s), buy a domain name with your name in it, ask the webmaster of your job to make a link to your page, etc.
In my experience, registering to LinkedIn (or a similar professional network site) might also help to have your professional information ranking high in Google.

maddox22 said...

Well, it's nice to know I may not be handicapped in the job search. Especially since the author I share a name with is considered a good author.

(Reminds me of the guy in Office Space named Michael Bolton...)

Igor said...

This is a good subject.

I generally wonder why there is no trace of somebody. If that person is a scientist, then in my area (not chemistry), I would say it is odd not too find that person on Google.

Even if that person gets to have the name of famous person, Google still does a good job at proposing the other person in the first page (provided this person has actually left intentionally some mark on the web). So, if I don't see a person's name on Google, then I think one could wonder about their actual scientific contribution.

How to remedy to this in a fast and efficient manner ?

What has worked for me is to create a page using a google account on googlepages and use blogger for blogging. Google seems to pay more attention to its tools and provide a better ranking.

One of issues that needs to be thought through is: what needs to be on that page ? If you are considering a different kind of path, how does putting your resume/history on the web allow other people to think of you as capable of doing something different ?

It is probably a question that should the subject of an entire post. Some thoughts along these lines are:
- maybe you should be blogging on a subject you have not published into so that eventually you build an expertise in what one like.
- an entry by Seth Goldin (why bother having a resume:
http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/03/why-bother-havi.html )

Cheers,

Igor
http://nuit-blanche.blogspot.com

El said...

I'm in a similar boat. I share a name with both a prominent photographer AND an animator for a popular children's cartoon. You have to go quite a few pages back in Google to get to anything about me. I think for the time being I'm going to consider that a good thing.

DancingFish said...

In my case, having less hits on my name would be best! My full name was also the alias of a felon that upset a particular group of people who have a knack for creating webpages and starting petitions to keep 'me' in jail.
I just hope potential employers will assume it isn't me. Grad school leaves little time for a life of crime.

The Mad Chemist said...

My full name was also the alias of a felon that upset a particular group of people who have a knack for creating webpages and starting petitions to keep 'me' in jail.

Oh, geesh. Yeah, that is a bad situation.

I would rather NOT pop up than pop up on such a search because I have a rather toxic person from my past who keeps trying to find me and insert himself into my life.

As a result, I really try hard to stay off the web crawlers' radars--to the point of asking profs to remove mentions of my name from websites, etc.

Luckily, I have a very common name that is shared with an actress, author, dancer, jewelry designer, and sociology professor so anyone looking for me would have to wade through 10 billion pages before finding me.

Igor said...

If you have a name that is shared with that of a felon, then I don't understand why you would NOT want to set the record straight by having a presence on the interweb.

Take the example of David Brady:
http://davidbrady.net/who/index.html

I think the position of trying to remove one's name from website is elusive, it may work for a while but it is going to be hard for it to stay off after a while. With that in mind I'd personally rather "control" what is
on the web rather than leaving it to some random snafu to tell other people who I am.

Igor.

Silas said...

Should you be concerned if a Google search turns up nothing about you?

I'm probably just old, but unless you're pursuing a freelance career (writing, consulting) I'm not seeing the problem. What possible difference could it make?

If that person is a scientist, then in my area (not chemistry), I would say it is odd not too find that person on Google.

My concern is whether prospective hires are in PubMed, not in Google.

Igor said...

Silas said:
"..My concern is whether prospective hires are in PubMed, not in Google..."

Two issues:
- not everybody is trying to switch to an alternative career from a field that is covered by PubMed.
- If you have references in PubMed, and no webpage where there is a statement of interest where you are making it clear you are also interesgted in doing something else, how would a typical HR react to a resume that is not a good fit to the advertized position ?

I think it may be worth it to set up a poll (using polldaddy for instance) and ask readers of this blog if they would google someobody's name if they were to hire somebody on their team.

Igor.

Heather said...

If you have references in PubMed, and no webpage where there is a statement of interest where you are making it clear you are also interesgted in doing something else, how would a typical HR react to a resume that is not a good fit to the advertized position ?

You wouldn't consider the resume/cover letter as a statement of interest in doing something else?

Also, if the resume isn't a good fit it is usually because the person wrote it without addressing the needs of the company or highlighting similar work/skills of the job seeker.

You don't just up and decide to switch careers one day. You build up your skills in that area even it that means volunteering for odd jobs at first.