Don’t ever think for one minute that companies won’t Google you. They will and I learnt this the hard way but we won’t go into that. Maybe in a future post when the incident has been left far behind in the past.
Everyone has a digital footprint. Well, everyone who uses their internet connection and for millennials not to have one is actually suspicious. Google maps tracks your itinerary daily. Exact times and locations are all shown in your Google map history. They don’t hide it, people just don’t know about it. Every purchase you’ve ever made on Amazon or Ebay is recorded and if your Instagram account is public, you can be sure those images are floating around somewhere.
For those who don’t want any surprises when their name is entered into that ridiculous Google search bar that has robbed us of our privacy, please read on. I will share a few simple tips and tricks on cleaning up your online image and protecting your privacy.
This social media platform where people used to post whatever because it felt “safe” has now been monetized and since having merged with Facebook, I highly doubt they put much effort into keeping our information safe. Nobody has time to read the small print of their numerous privacy policies but that’s where the lies are hidden.
- Change your username.
NEVER use your real name. I cannot stress how important this is. Companies don’t have the time to guess possible online usernames of every applicant but they do have the time to simply copy paste your name into a search bar. Whatever unwanted image comes up with that name is your responsibility thereafter.
- Make your account private.
Don’t give anyone easy access to your account. Companies can change their mind over a photo with friends at a party, holding a drink. Honestly, who doesn’t enjoy a good party sometimes? More importantly, who doesn’t party? Unfortunately, you’re looking for a job and companies are the ones who have them.
- Use the ‘ARCHIVE’ function
Instagram is filled with memories. I know because I’ve had mine for almost five years now and before this function came along, I couldn’t bear deleting any of my pics! This handy function has now saved me a lot of trouble and it was the first thing I did in addition to all of the above.
- Unlink your Facebook with your Instagram
I had actually done this a year before. It doesn’t do much if you’re using your real name but still prevents companies from finding them as quickly, I suppose.
- Untick the “Find me by email address” function
If the email address you’ve provided on your CV is the same as the one you use for Facebook, I strongly recommend you to remove the function that allows others to find you via your email address. Or use a different email address on your CV.
- Remove suspicious profile/cover photos
Especially cover photos as these are ALWAYS public and you cannot change the privacy setting. Profile photos, however, can be set to “Me Only”.
- Delete and untag ALL unwanted photos
It helps to perform a complete check of the whole platform for pictures of yourself by simply typing “photos of ___(insert name)___” in the search bar.
- Change your name
I sense your hesitation. The majority of users do show their real name on their Facebook profiles but if you want to be 100% certain you can’t be found, this is not a tip to skip. A smart, French trend you can try if you have a long surname is removing the vowels. For example, ‘Christina Aguilera’ would then become ‘Christina Agl’ or ‘Agr’ or “Aglr”, whichever you prefer.
If you have gone through all the steps above, you should be seeing broken links where “page is not found” because you have either made your account private or you have changed your name but the pictures will still appear on Google images. Fear not for Google’s “Remove Outdated Content” tool will work perfectly! Just enter the URL into the Request Removal bar and the image should be taken down within a matter of days.
If this function does not work, it’s possible that other people have used these images on their website and you will probably have to ask them to remove it first.
A friend of mine made an interesting remark after I recounted my sob story. She said, “I hate how we can’t be ourselves just because we’re looking for a job.” Sigh* Such is society and its obsession with appearances and to succeed, we must become master manipulators.
These are all the tips and tricks I have up my sleeve for the time being. If you have any more you’d like to share with me or in case of any incorrect information, please let me know.