What would you do if your identity was stolen? Talk about inconvenient – As if the job search was hard enough already!
On occasion, we ask our experts to answer a career question on behalf of our readers. This week’s question is about job search after your identity was stolen:
I was recently talking with a man who has been laid off for quite some time. He has been looking for work, but it seems that there was some strange barrier that was causing doors to be closed to him.
Then he thought to Google his name and sure enough there is a person with his exact name that lives not too far from where he lives with criminal charges against him.
He feels that this might be the problem because it was at the top of the list for his name search. The person is of a different race and different age (about 5 years difference).
What can he do when he applies for jobs to address this? Should he mention it in cover letter to distinguish himself from that other person or is there something he should do on Google or the world wide web in general to show that this unfortunate person is hot him. – Patricia
Here’s what our experts had to say about searching for a job while dealing with identity theft:
“Companies are increasingly relying on online information from searches and social media tools to find out additional information about candidates,” says Amanda Haddaway author of Destination Real World: Success After Graduation for New and Soon-to-Be College Graduates.
Haddaway says it’s best to be up front with the recruiter and/or hiring manager about this sort of thing.
“We live online now and everyone has a responsibility to manage their own personal brands,” she says.
Don’t Bring It Up In The Cover Letter
“Unfortunately, this is not unusual – especially for those of us with common names,” says Kristin Johnson of ProfessionDirection.com. “Addressing this in a cover letter may hurt more than it helps; it’s such an awkward thing for an employer to read when you are trying to make a good first impression.”
Johnson strongly suggests getting control of your online identity by setting up a LinkedIn account, other social media accounts, starting a blog, and exploring sites like BrandYourself.com.
Get Your Brand Out There
“Identity and branding on the internet is like heads and tails on a coin,” says Roshni Kumar of CareerLighthouse.net. “We call it and it then manifests. It’s not necessary that we know the outcome all the time, but it is important to know our brand first.”
It’s important to get your brand statement out there in your conversations as much as possible, Kumar says. She also suggests focusing on yourself and getting as much clarity as possible on the job search situation.
Provide Positive Evidence
When you create these websites for yourself (and while you maintain them), be sure to include visuals, including photos of yourself in action, as well as information that matches your resume and personal brand. According to Lyne Tumlinson of Career-Lift.com, this will help you identify yourself as a positive person who is much more than a criminal’s matching name.
“Just as for all the ‘Joe Smiths’ of the world, your client needs to stand out with his name along with his personal brand and take actions that will put that page to the top of the Google list,” Tumlinson says.
Get Out And Network
“There are things he can do to boost his positive online presence and drive these negative listings down lower on the page, but this takes time,” says Norine Dagliano of EkmInspirations.com.
For immediate impact, Dagliano recommends aggressively work his network to get a direct lead/referral to the companies on your target list.
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