You get one chance at a first impression. And in college admissions, that is a very high stake first impression. Will an admission officer google your name? Very likely, yes. So here are a few suggestions to make sure that your individual digital brand helps instead of hurts your chances.
Students are sometimes shocked and embarrassed by the images of themselves that come up from a Google search. Not only should you remove those images and set any social media accounts to private, but you should be aware that — even if you delete an image from a site — that image will still likely come up in Google results for months or sometimes even longer. To expedite how quickly an image will disappear from search results, you’ll need to submit a Google removal request.
The best way to protect yourself in the first place, however, is by doing these three things:
- Be responsible.
- Have responsible friends.
- If you see someone take an unflattering picture or video of you, ask them to delete it.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and you don’t want those thousand words to give others a negative impression of you. More and more, it’s important to protect your digital brand.
Shape Your Brand
In addition to keeping your digital brand clean from the negative, however, you can fill it with the positive. If there are pictures that show you in a favorable light, consider making those images public. You might think I’m joking, but I’m not: If there are pictures of you smiling and playing with kids, laughing while an adorable puppy licks your cheek, etc, those types of images will immediately make people smile when they see them and give them a favorable impression of you.
And, consider buying the website of your name so that you are more or less guaranteed to have your own website come up when someone searches your name. For example, I own www.DavidBlobaum.com for that exact reason. Students should also create a LinkedIn account — this page demonstrates professionalism but also typically ranks highly in Google search results as well, so it can again help you control the first few search results that come up under your name (which is especially important if you have a unique name that will likely pull up results about you personally).
If you think all of this scrutiny on so many factors is too much, I agree with you. But, it is the world we live in, and our digital brands have become ever more important. And with knowledge comes power: the ability to leverage your personal, online brand to your advantage.