Do you have a relatively unique first and last name? Then buy your first and last name .com domain now (no spaces). Is your name relatively common? Buy a variant of your name (that you use), a shortened version, last name first, with dashes, with your middle name, last name first, or if all else fails, buy about[your name].com. Now. I can’t stress this enough.
If you are one of the following, you have no excuse:
- You are employed
- You are about to enter the work force within the year
- You have your resume online somewhere
- You have published material (including academic or research)
Not convinced? Allow me to explain why this is one of the most important things you can do for your long term image and career. Here are the five reasons in summary format:
- You’ll be the first result for your name
- Having a result is better than not
- Controlling your image is actually possible
- The Internet is still young
- Maintenance is easier
Note: Before I get into any of this, I want to make one other point: Whatever you do, make sure the domain name you purchase matches up with whatever name you decide to use in the work place and on your resume. Three things I implicitly suggest in this article are:
- The importance of an online image — Keep in mind that society is evolving to accept “online” as a second “real life.” This is evident in the growing number of people who date people they met online. This was nearly unheard of only five or six years ago. I am confident that this convergence will only continue, and thus I place a high priority on taking control of your online “self” sooner rather than later.
- People will search for you — While I can’t say I’ve always searched my bosses, I can say I’ve always looked up potential employees. I hope that speaks for itself.
- Make sure you link to your website — Otherwise search engines may never find it. Simply use it as your “homepage” on various sites. As always, be careful where you mention your site since that can be used to find stuff about you (by searching for the domain name itself) that wasn’t meant to be associated with you.
Reason #1: You’ll be the first result
The words in the domain are one of the most important aspects in determining if a result appears first in a search. Thus, if you search for Michi Kono, you’ll see my personal web site comes up #1, despite this blog having far more inbound links and content (this blog is #3).
The last thing you need is for an employer to search for your name, and the first result is some jerk that happens to be similar enough that he or she could be mistaken as you. If that guy says dumb stuff in his blog, writes inaccurate information, or otherwise acts immature, your name and reputation are at risk.
Even if such jerks exist, if you own the domain name, your web site will come up before theirs, which will help convince the employers that the first result is likely the one and only valid one.
Reason #2: Having a result is better than not
Having a web foot print is better than not having one at all. This was the topic of an article a few months back; the point is that when an employer looks up your name and finds nothing authoritative about you, you are just another number in the stack. A result helps put a personality, picture, or persona to the application.
This is amplified if you are applying for a technical position. How am I to feel comfortable with someone’s technical abilities when they don’t even have an online presence? Are they afraid of the Internet? Do they know how to run a blog? Do they not know HTML? The point is, it’s pretty much expected that a highly technical person would have some sort of web foot print. Not having that might raise concerns.
You don’t need to put much on your site. A simple copy of your resume (with highly sensitive information removed) is sufficient. Or perhaps a professional blog (as in, no posting about your party adventures, relationships, or other personal stuff). The point is, have something there.
Reason #3: Control your image
Are you already all over the web? Is it relatively simple to find your junior high blog and your Myspace profile when searching your name? Well, most people can look past those if they are also shown a professional side of you. Unfortunately, if that side of you isn’t available, then they have only those embarrassing pictures and immature posts to judge you by.
By carefully choosing what is on your site, you are decreasing the likelihood that someone will continue to click on the next search result, since they’ve already found what they were looking for. By controlling the top few results on your name, you can dramatically change your online “image.” Everybody has a personal life, but it’s important that you convey a strong professional side — something that is sorely lacking from your Myspace and Facebook profiles.
This underscores the importance of having your domain name. By having [your full name as it appears on your resume].com, you are cherry picking web results for your employer to see since the first result will be your domain. This means keep the web site professional, and don’t publish personal writings, photos, videos, or other material that could some day in the distant future be taken out of context against you (see #5).
Reason #4: The Internet is still young
What will the Internet be like in 10 more years? Who knows. Web sites might become the next business card. People might ask for your web site much like people today ask for people’s AIM screen names. It may become the norm to look up someone when determining if they are worthy of a date. You just don’t know.
As it becomes increasingly accepted that everybody has a personal space on the web, you will likely look back and regret not taking that domain name when it was still available. Now, whenever someone meets you and looks you up, they find a result of some random party animal. Or maybe now it’s a porn website. Nice. It certainly doesn’t help your image, doesn’t?
You could have been 100% certain that someone looking for you would have instead seen your professionally designed web site resume and links to your published works.
Are you that certain a future employer won’t look you up? Are you that certain society won’t become focused on web name searching? Are you that certain you plan on staying 100% off of the net?
Reason #5: Easier to keep up to date
As your life changes and your career or family situation evolves, having only one central location to edit will make things easier. Right now, those of you without your own domains have no authoritative image “source.” As in, to find out what kind of person you are, one must search for you and piece it all together. Some of those pieces might be months or years out of date, which can be damaging when that piece also happens to be contrary to your professional self.
By controlling the first and most relevant search result for your name, you are able to keep your online image fully updated all the time. Someone without the edge will never have a fully accurate online image. This could be an issue when you suddenly decide to enter politics, become a manager, or maybe randomly decide you want to be a more private person. The point is, what’s “okay” to you today, might not be tomorrow. At least with this, you can adapt much quicker.
It’s less than $10 a year.
- If it keeps you from losing even one interview, it paid for itself.
- If it helps you land even one date with someone who looks you up, it was worth it.
- If you ever become involved in politics, it may easily save you tens of thousands of dollars worth a lot of trouble.
- If you ever decide to start a blog, you will be very happy.
- If you ever become a famous CEO/actor, you will be angry when you don’t have it, but someone who hates you does.
- The email address alone might be worth it.
Lastly, don’t bother with the other domain extensions unless it’s a last resort. The .com extension is everything since that’s what everybody tries first. Maybe .net if you’re feeling brave.
What are you waiting for? Go buy your domain name right now. If I still haven’t convinced you, I’d love to hear your reasons (post a comment below).