Changing names won’t ‘erase online past`, say recruiters

London: Google boss Eric Schmidt might have suggested youngsters to change their name to erase an embarrassing past, but UK recruiters have said that the move might not really be a practical solution.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the chief executive of the technology giant said that one day youngsters would be entitled to change their names - and said it was an issue society must consider as firms such his own collect ever more information about their users.

Because of the data Google collects, "we know roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are", he said.

However, recruitment firms point out that any attempt to wipe out an online trail would likely raise more doubts than it covered up.

"In theory, changing your name could work," Sky News quoted Phill Lane, head of planning at PennaBarkers, as saying.

"But it would also open you up to a huge gap in your career history, in much the same way as leaving a gap on your CV would - and that`s something that will always be investigated further at interview.

"The question for candidates would be: `What kind of information are you hiding?`

"If it`s simply pictures of you drunk on a night out, that`s information that recruiters would not typically factor into a hiring decision - they certainly shouldn`t be.

"If, however, you are trying to cover up behaviour that would reasonably jeopardise your chances of getting the job, that will likely come out in the interview process, so there`s going to be little benefit as a candidate in doing that,” he added.

Dr Gill Whiteman of graduate recruiter TargetJobs added it was not just young people who might wish to withdraw information posted online.

"We are all guilty of being naive about how and where our personal information is being stored, or the rules and regulations of data usage and data protection in different countries and how these change over time," she said.

Whiteman added that anyone in employment ought to actively manage their online persona, and regularly Google themselves to check what an outsider could discover through a web search.

The recruiters said in many cases, having a full and active online presence could actually help a young person in their future career.

"It would be reasonable, for example, for an advertising agency to respond favourably to a candidate that had manipulated their digital footprint to advertise themselves - it shows a grasp of the communications channels and marketing techniques," said Mr Lane.