Use reverse look-up. As you brand yourself, you need to know who else shares your image. Copy a picture of yourself and paste in the Google search bar. Click on images. Wow, check out the results. Does anyone look like you?
Set Google alerts on your name (see who shares your name) and all interests you have. You will get free information you can share as posts on social media but select only credible articles to share!
If someone shares your exact name and they come up constantly, I advise job seekers to use their middle initials so the employer can easily find them in an online search.
I legally changed my name to reflect the personal brand I created when Miracle Resources created its personal branding system. “Katherine” is more formal and reflects my professionalism. Also it is a current trending name; “Kathy” is not. When you Google me, you will see Kathy Miracle, and most of it is me, but in the past there was a Kathy Miracle that was not me, and I wanted clients, people who hire me to speak to find me, not someone with my name.
In your search type in your name and the words “lawsuit,” “felony,” “yelp,” and other terms that could hurt your reputation. If someone has your name and a bad reputation, you must re-brand so the people you want to find you are able to connect to you only.
One of my students asked me to help her get a photo of her and her ex off Google images. She had not posted the picture, and neither did her ex. (Note that if the person who posts can remove the image, that is the best solution.) I worked with our SEO expert, and we helped my student by asking her to post all of her projects, interests, and activities that she wanted to promote. The bad picture is still there, but it is now on page 200 of a Google search.
If the cost is too great to take a picture off or your dispute to remove something is not working, please learn from the example above. You cannot assume an employer or clients will understand that you were just young and having fun or that the information or picture was someone else. Your brand and reputation are your responsibility.
Katherine Miracle is the founder and CEO of Miracle Resources, a marketing, public relations, and training firm that helps clients increase revenue and awareness. She is a strategic personal branding expert and the author of “Your Strategic Personal Brand.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter.