Maintaining your online presence is not only important while job searching, but throughout your career. Information found about you online can either help your overall reputation and personal brand, or damage it. With that being said it is important to regularly search your name, and monitor any content that you have no control over.
Damaging content can be anything from unprofessional images, mistaken identity, old or misreported information, or even (though we hope this isn’t the case) slander. Once you find the content there are a few things you can do to try to have it removed.
Figure out who governs the content
Is it on someone’s blog? Facebook? A website? If you are not the one controlling the content you need to find out who does. With this knowledge you can ask them (politely and professionally) to remove it from their site.
**If the content is on Google you may be out of luck. Google will only remove content if it is confidential information such as your social security number, bank information etc.
Contact the owner
If the content is a picture on your friend’s Facebook profile asking them to remove it is extremely simple. But if you don’t know the owner of the content personally, you may have to work to find out how to contact them. If searching the blog or webpage doesn’t yield any results as to who the owner is, you can try searching the site on who.is or sites like it. If you’re lucky their contact information will be listed and you can ask them to remove the content.
If you are unable to find contact information you can report the content to the web hosting company. If you have to go this route, make sure that you are a detailed as possible in your report/removal request. Include information like why the content should be removed and the full URL where the content is being hosted.
Petition the Search Engine
If you cannot get the content removed, you can petition the search engine to remove the page from coming up in the search results when someone looks you up. You can do this by going to the removal request page (if you cannot find this page on your own, use the search engine you’re requesting.)
None of these methods are guaranteed. You may hit several dead-ends on your quest to remove damaging content, but it may turn out to be easier than you think. Your online presence can be a valuable asset in your job search and career, doing all that you can to maintain and protect it is always worth the effort!