One of the first things we teach our children (and for those of us young enough, what we were taught) is never give our personal information out on the Internet. That we have no idea who is on the other side of the monitor, and if we give them so much as our name, they will invariably track us down and kidnap us. But in this age of social networking, of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter (with Geolocation!), in a time when it's common for potential employers to Google our names to find out more about us than we'd ever want them to know, is this old rule becoming obsolete, even counterproductive?
In this day and age, more and more employers are doing Google searches on prospective employees to see if the person has done anything the company doesn't approve of. More and more stories are cropping up about how someone's pictures on their Facebook account from their wild night out (even five years ago, in college) made its way to their employer or a prospective employer and they got fired or didn't get hired because of said pictures (even if that was not the official reason). It leaves at least me, and probably others, wondering what kind of effect this can have on my employment opportunities, even if those accounts aren't mine? If an employer does a search before seeing the prospective employee in person, and/or the account has no picture or location information, there's not really an easy way of telling whether that account belongs to the prospect. As such, there's no way to determine that it's not the prospect's account. If an employer doesn't like what they see on the account, it doesn't matter, anyway. The seeds of doubt have been sown and the prospect's chances can be put in jeopardy.
Before I picked up shaunagordon.com, I did a couple Google searches using my name. The last search I did before I started focusing on getting me on the first page of Google turned up something like two geneology sites, two LinkedIn profiles, two or three Facebook profiles, a couple of MySpace profiles, a Twitter feed, a Hampshire college webpage, and a Forrester Research profile. Out of all that, only the Forrester Research and one of the LinkedIn profiles were mine. I don't even have a Facebook, MySpace, or Genology/Ancestory account. While some of those accounts are blatantly obviously not me ("Gordon" is the first part of a hyphenated last name, for example), or pretty obvious if other information is known about me (such as my location), there are some that could go either way, and while I don't think an employer would care if I was using Geneology.com to build my family tree (personally, I'd find it impressive, I know a person who has thus far traced their family history back to the Civil War, and since their heritage includes slaves and former slaves, that's no easy feat), I don't want unsavory things from the MySpace or Facebook accounts getting attributed to me, and subsequently trying to convince the person that I don't even have an account there.
Now that I have done some work to overcome the other "me"s out there, several of the links on the first page come to this site. I'm not necessarily looking to take over the first page on Google, but reducing my chances of being confused with someone else would be beneficial.