Got Google?

Have you ever been Googled?  This neologism, which is now recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary (“Google, v. […] 2. trans. To search for information about (a person or thing) using the Google search engine.”), has an interesting history.  Google, of course, is the wildly successful company whose search engine has become the de facto standard on the internet, and thus a new word.  The company’s name, in turn, is derived from “googol,” the term in mathematics for the number ten raised to the hundredth power, which could be written as the numeral one followed by a hundred zeroes.  “Googol” was coined by the nine-year-old nephew of a mathematician in 1920.

There is some disagreement as to why the company name is spelled differently from the number.  The company’s own website simply says that its “play on the term reflects the company's mission to organize the immense amount of information available on the web.”  But other sources suggest that the change in spelling is due to a mistake by the company’s first investor, who wrote a $100,000 check to “Google, Inc.” before the company’s founders had incorporated under any name.  The founders then quickly incorporated under the misspelt name so they could cash the check.

But back to the original question.  If you have ever had a job interview or a first meeting with a potential client, there is a good chance you have been Googled.  Learning about people by doing web searches on their names is now a common practice in business, so when you meet with someone, you should at least consider the possibility that they Googled you.

Google yourself periodically, and be prepared to deal with what you find.

Even if you have done little on the internet yourself, you may be amazed how much can be learned about you through a simple Google search.  And if you have been active on the net – keeping a blog, posting in discussion groups, sharing your photos, etc. – then you have provided a wealth of information for any potential employers.  Of course, how much can be learned about you depends in part on how common your name is – if your name is “John Smith,” then you will be lost in a sea of other John Smiths (though clever searchers can still learn about you by combining your name with other information, such as your address), while if your name is something like “Melissa Fristrom” then anything found is probably about you.

So what might you need to deal with?  Obviously, if someone has been posting libels about you, you may need to respond (and should probably talk to a lawyer).  More usual problems are things such as unflattering personal information (that blog you wrote in college about getting drunk and waking up in a stranger’s bed), intemperate remarks (the time you got into a flame-war and used rather strong language), or political activities (your arrest at an anti-war demonstration – which, depending upon your potential employer, may be an asset or a liability).  Or a search may reveal misstatements in your resume – but then, this is just one of many reasons you should never lie in your resume.

Since there are so many potential problems, they need to be handled on a case-by-case basis – there is no one way to deal with them.  In some rare cases you may want to bring up the subject yourself, so you explain your side of the story.  Other times you may want to deal with the problem indirectly – if there is information about unprofessional behavior in your past, don’t mention it but make sure you emphasize your current professionalism in your interview, and have references to support you.

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    Google is not a small one. It has lot of data and information in it. 80% of the internet population will use Google as their primary search engine. We can gain more knowledge from Google when we Google ourselves continuously for sometime intervals. We can find vast information in it. That ...
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Reader Comments (2)

Very good and informative article, thanks for this posting..

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April 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterReed Gibson

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April 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGibs

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