Saturday, October 13, 2007

Do You Own Your Own Name? Or does someone else?

It happened to me a couple of years ago. There was this new website and I just couldn’t see how it could possibly benefit me. It seemed like it was just a bunch of kids playing games. About a year passed until I decided to invest some time into testing it out. But when I went to register, I found that @philrosenberg was already taken, by the VP of Gaming for Sony, who shares my name.

So on Linkedin, I’m philrosenberg ...
on Facebook, I’m philrosenberg ...
on Google, I’m philrosenberg ...

but on Twitter, I’m @philreCareered .

And I’m lucky. Imagine who could have taken the name. A convicted felon, a drug dealer, who knows?

This is a minor inconvenience for me. Here’s a more interesting example - read about this woman who couldn’t figure out why she had come in 2nd place for a job 35 times (yes, 35!) and wrote me asking if it was ageism. See what happened when I Googled her by name at I laughed so hard, I was crying.

So what should you do about this?

There are hundreds of social media sites - which ones should you care about?

Fortunately, there aren’t too many that are critical. But there are 4 that are an absolute must to own your name, and 6 others that are a good idea also.

Must haves for job seekers:
  1. Google: Surprisingly, not a lot of people know that they can register their own name on Google. Grab yours while you still can
  2. Linkedin: Linkedin gets about 10x more traffic than Monster - it is now the world’s most popular job site
  3. Facebook: With 500 million people on Facebook, if you haven’t already claimed your name ... you may be too late
  4. Twitter: Don’t let what happened to me, happen to you also

You don’t even have to use these sites right away. Maybe you’re not looking for a job now, but chances are that you will look for one at some point in the future. If you wait, it may be too late.

Nice to have name ownership for job seekers, especially if yours is already taken in the top 4:
  1. Plaxo: Plaxo is a smaller version of Linkedin, but more of an online business card and contact synchronizer
  2. MySpace: Your name may still be available and MySpace can get you on page 1 of Google
  3. ZoomInfo: Online business directory
  4. Spoke: Online business directory
  5. Jigsaw: Online business directory
  6. Yahoo & Hotmail: Yahoo’s name registration has been around as long as Yahoo Mail - You may be too late

Ok, it’s a way out there example, but what if your name is Jim Smith, you’re an accountant and if none of the sites listed above have your name available? What can you do?

The fail safes:

  1. Blogger: He was killed in 1994, so he probably doesn’t own - and it’s free
  2. Just in case he blogger is taken - it’s free too
  3. Your own website: If you own you can manage it so that it will appear on page 1 of Google under certain searches, so you’re not confused with the Representative from South Carolina. You could also use or which are also both open.
You don’t have to write very much in these and can just post links to interesting news stories (better yet, articles about your industry). That may be enough to have you found of the first page of Google, rather than the scoundrel that shares your good name.

Even if you’re not in job search mode now, take an hour and claim your name ... so someone else doesn’t get there first.

Readers - Do you have any interesting stories about how someone else shared your name and was found on page 1 of Google? Has it ever damaged your job opportunity?

Recruiters - How about you? Have you ever had a candidate who wasn’t hired due to a Google search that uncovered information about someone else with the same name?

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Steve Cassady said...

Great Post. I did my name search on the key sites a couple months ago and registered on the ones I wasn't on. My Google research showed two other Steve Cassady's that have a strong web presence so I made sure to stake my claim. My only conflict was with Youtube which should also be one of the top ones people should claim.

Phil Rosenberg said...

@Steve - Thanks for sharing!