First, there was "digital dirt." Now there are the "unGoogleables."
By dramatically compressing the time and effort needed to retrieve, publish and transmit information, the digital economy has reduced what economists call frictional unemployment - thereby benefiting both job-seekers and hiring managers.
But progress has its price, according to The Wall Street Journal. As the work of researching candidates has largely shifted to the Internet, information that employers learn about applicants increasingly comes through search engines like Google. That means we're all public figures now - or not.
The Journal details how a name that's insufficiently unique can make it difficult for prospective employers to confirm details on an applicant's resume, such as published research papers. The newspaper labels such digitally invisible people as "unGoogleables," and relates their complaint that "being crowded out of search results actually carries a professional and financial price."
How to Be Googleable
What to do? Changing your name, even if only by adding a middle initial, is a radical solution. Fortunately, simpler fixes exist.
Listing in professional directories can raise a person's online visibility, as can business networking sites like LinkedIn and ZoomInfo. Several companies sell services designed to make a client's name, product or business place near the top of results of the most widely used search engines.
Finally, the Journal quotes Google software engineer Matt Cutts, who advises that either a distinctive name or a "distinctive characteristic" is enough to make a person stand out in the digital search world. So if your name is common but there is an unusual feature or activity you're associated with, a search that combines the two may give you a good chance of placing near the top.