How would you like that headline to appear in the #1 slot in a Google search of your name? While this is a fictionalized story of a CFO turned CEO, could you find yourself the “victim” of digital dirt?
And here’s another potential career killer headline in Reuters … “Boston Provident fires CFO Levy for alleged theft.” Or this one, “Ex-Petters Co. CFO ‘Lied for a Living’.”
I know, I know. I can hear you now. Those are a big deal and I would never appear in such a headline. Thankfully, that is true for the majority of people. But what about the small stuff? Comments taken out of context in a conversation with a reporter, a statement you made on a controversial position in a Board meeting, an adversarial comment you left on a blog … again, used out of context, or an irritated comment you left on a public forum.
If you aren’t checking your online identity, how do you know what’s being said about you? In today’s social media world, you are who Google says you are.
The most recent stats I’ve heard were from an ERE personal branding seminar last week … 77% of executive recruiters use search engines to research applicants and 59% of hiring managers are influenced by your online identity. On an initial Google search by recruiters, could you be confused with someone with an unsavory reputation? What if one of these CFOs happens to share your name … do you also get to carry his baggage?
Testament to how critical a digital footprint is to one’s career is the article in the Wall Street Journal … “More Job Seekers Scramble to Erase Their Criminal Past.” Again, you might not have a criminal past but someone who shares your name may. And as the article states, digital dirt is nearly impossible to eradicate. That also applies to the “small stuff.”