I had Googled myself a few times before I attended Cate B.‘s workshop introducing the web presence component of the DWR Certificate. However, I had not done this while imagining that I am a potential employer. The good news is that I did not locate any sites containing information that I consider embarrassing, with the possible exception of a scathing Amazon.com review I once wrote about a Baby Einstein DVD. (For the record, I don’t regret the review, only that one else agrees with it.)
But the bad news is that I did not find very much positive information about myself either. Most problematically, the sites that I would want someone considering hiring me to stumble on were associated with different names. Under “Dustin Hixenbaugh” I found my UT profiles and references to some awards I won as an undergraduate and as a high school teacher. Under “Dusty Hixenbaugh” I found the write-up about an award I received from UT’s Department of English and a couple of old blogs.
Since the workshop I have taken charge of my web presence in several ways. I have built a professional website using the DWRL’s WordPress software. (You’re reading it.) I have also established and/or updated profiles at a number of social networking sites, the most important of which I have listed at the bottom of this page. As much as possible, I have linked these sites together and also included links to external sites whose profiles I would like to raise. For example, I have linked to the sites for the two podcasts I contribute to, Zeugma and LitWit, as well as to my “Rhetoric of Country Music” class blog.
Lastly, I have added my given and more professional name, Dustin, to the majority of these sites. My hope is that employers searching me will quickly learn that Dustin and Dusty are the same person–and that he is uniquely qualified for whatever academic post they are looking to fill.
The accounts I have newly established still require work. But the effort I have put into them has already made a difference. When I Googled “Dustin Hixenbaugh” again this afternoon, I was pleased to see that most of the first-page results reflected my career as a graduate student. Several sites containing positive information about me that I previously had to dig for now appear on results pages two and three. My angry Amazon review has sunk from the top of page one onto the middle of page two.
Spending this time actively working on my web presence has helped me appreciate how much control I can exercise over the information someone Googling my name will discover. It has helped me feel like I am no longer treading water while the Internet’s waves crash around me but that I stand on a chain of rocks that is interconnected and stable.
Here are a few sites I indicating my web presence:
|Academia.edu||Country Music Project|