Digital Anonymity

I am constantly preaching the importance of having a visible online presence as a way of proactively managing your career and your reputation. Recruiters want to know that you are a credible candidate, and use Google to confirm that you are who you say you are. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to lie (or even exaggerate) about your background, thanks to Google. The alternative is to be digitally obscure … but if you can’t be found, most people don’t believe you exist.

This same reputation management concept is critical to people like me … small business owners. I am competing against moms with the same name as me who blog about their family, so staying digitally distinct among other people with the name “Cindy Kraft” is an ongoing process. I think, though, if you Googled my name it would be pretty clear who I am and who I am not.

I say all that because the other day I was reading some not-so-great advice (in my humble opinion) about writing cover letters by an author of a resume book. It was a name I didn’t recognize and in our careers world, it’s a pretty small, close-knit community. So of course, I Googled the name to find out more about him.

The first entry on the first page of Google was “… charged with indent exposure …” and the last entry on the first page was “pled guilty to wire fraud ….” While it is quite probable neither of those entries refer to this person, there was no clear way to know. In between the first and last entries was not one discernable mention of the author.  He is Digitally Obscure. How does that affect his credibility in your eyes?

What about you, Mr. Finance Executive? Will a recruiter Googling your name find credible information about you, or misinformation about someone who shares your name? How will that affect your credibility in their eyes?