I was thinking about all of this personal branding stuff that seems to be the rage at the moment, and while I agree that it is important to have people perceive you a certain way, doing so in an overly self-promotional, inauthentic way is a quick road to having your personal brand = jackass. I have a few examples of this (I won’t mention names for fear of starting an online battle), but I think we all can identify at least one person who’s way too into networking/trying to present themselves in the exact right way. You hate them, I hate them.
All of that being said, if you want to stand out from the crowd in a job search, or you simply want to protect your good name, it’s a good idea to buy yourname.com. For many folks, this isn’t easy — most common names are long gone, but there are enough other top-level domains (the thing that comes after the last “dot”, like .com, .net, .org, .name or .me) at this point that you just might be able to snag SOMETHING. Obviously, the .com is preferable, but you might not have a choice.
A recent, prominent example of name hijacking is the Pete Hoekstra case. For those who don’t closely follow politics, he is a U.S. Congressman who, shockingly, didn’t register his name, petehoekstra.com. As a result, an individual who opposes his agenda purchased the name and set up a site that carefully details opposition to Mr. Hoekstra’s views. Not exactly a confidence-builder for his constituents and certainly embarrassing if he wants to suggest that he’s technologically savvy.
There are some other advantages to buying a your name as a domain name. For instance, I purchased my last name as a domain name several years ago (it wasn’t all that surprising that ciuksza.com was available), and I’ve used firstname.lastname@example.org for years. I’ve been told that using this email address demonstrated an understanding of technology, which was a considerable positive in a few situations. I would also contend that posting your resume online (and giving that domain name in your cover letters) helps you to stand out from your competition.
At this point, there’s not much of an excuse. Setting up an account at GoDaddy.com is free and easy (my preferred registrar despite their irritating commercials) and with coupon codes easily found if you search for “godaddy coupons”, you can get your domain name for under $8/year (cjc749fat is valid through the end of February).
You don’t have to be insane about your personal brand to justify buying your name. However, if you want a competitive edge in a tough climate, or just want the novelty of seeing your name as a .com, I’d suggest you make the slight investment to do it.