A common case of mistaken identity is when someone else that shares your name has a strong online presence.
No matter who it is that shares your name, it can create problems when you are trying to build a strong online identity. It can be especially damaging if your namesake has a bad reputation. Even if one’s namesake hasn’t done anything particularly embarrassing or scandalous, mistaken identity can still be a significant issue.
Being Mistaken for Others Can Harm Your Online Reputation
As Kelli B. Grant recently wrote in her Wall Street Journal article “Meet Your Digital Doppelgänger,” such confusion “can inadvertently parachute people into their namesake’s lives, exposing them to everything from love notes to carpool reminders to sensitive business documents.” Being mistaken for or associated with high-profile figure can also have a drastic effect on your online image. Having a particularly unique name can often help one avoid such confusion, but that’s not always the case.
Google is the New Resume in Town
Mistaken identity can be especially costly for those seeking a new job. As Richard N. Bolles writes in his book What Color Is Your Parachute?, “There is a new resume in town, and it’s called Google.” In a survey conducted by ExecuNet, 90% of executive recruiters confirmed that “they type a candidate name into an online search engine to find more information beyond what is on the executive’s résumé.”
A recent Forbes article by Chris Forman offers some helpful tips. “Rather than taking the blame for others’ mistakes, look for ways to differentiate yourself,” writes Forman, whose specific recommendations include using a distinct professional title like “Chris Andrews, CPA” and “a unique URL with your name for your social media accounts.”
Even if you don’t share a name with someone else, distinguishing and fortifying your online reputation is a smart and valuable move.