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Don’t let your digital footprint run away on you

Think of how many times you have scrolled through someone’s Facebook page who you barely know. Too many to count, right? Maybe a friend of a friend, a classmate or a colleague – did you make judgements about them because of what you saw? Of course. So, it’s not a stretch to see why employers want to look through your online activity to see how you conduct yourself outside of work hours.

What is a digital footprint?

Whether you’re a passive or active internet user, you will have accumulated a digital footprint. From your Instagram page to your Trade Me account, this publicly-visible information leads people to form an impression of you, often referred to as your ‘online reputation’. You wouldn’t want to make a bad first impression face-to-face, so why do it online?

Have you had your Digital Health Check?

Employers and recruiters may not admit to vetting your suitability for a position by screening online, but a staggering 70% do. Here at MIT, we want to help you be job ready. Check out our digital health list to see if you’re in good digital shape.  Take the challenge now.

Step one:

Social media overhaul

More than one third of employers have eliminated a candidate from the running after finding damaging information about them online. Ouch! For most of us, social media is an integral part of our everyday lives, so we tend to be more complacent with what content we post and engage with. This makes it a great place to start. It’s time to scroll down to the long-lost photos of 21st birthday parties and potentially embarrassing Facebook rants.

Privacy settings

Get into a regular practice of checking your privacy settings across the platforms (Facebook, Instagram etc). Often these platforms update their privacy policies, so it’s worth checking what you share is only reaching the desired networks (e.g. ‘Public’ versus ‘Friends Only’).

Examine your posts

If you’re questioning whether you should have posted something, then it’s probably time for it go. Remove old photos which portray you in a bad light. A potential employer doesn’t need to see how quickly you skulled your yardie at your 21st. References to alcohol excesses or drug use is the leading cause of turning recruiters off. Play it safe. If in doubt, delete.

Examine your engagement

Your comments, tags and mentions are important too. Search through comments you have made on your own posts and others’ pages and remove anything that could be taken out of context. Negative comments regarding work, expressing derogatory views, and poor punctuation and grammar are all things to watch out for.

Are they really friends?

Getting hired isn’t a popularity vote based on a social equity score. Leave the importance of friends and follower count for the social influencers pushing teeth whitening kits and protein powders. If you wouldn’t openly share information with your connections face-to-face, why do it on the web? Consider what information these friends and followers share. This could be perceived by hiring staff as a reflection of your own beliefs.

Step 2: Search engine audit

Delve into what the web knows about you by using search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Search your full name, then expand your search with other keywords related to you: your school, town, sports teams and groups. Browse for anything that should be cleaned up or needs to be updated. If you find any negative or misleading information, contact the source and request correction or removal of the content.

This is also a good opportunity to change your email address if you’re still using your Hotmail account with the name you thought was funny ten years ago. Your first name and last name separated with an underscore or full stop by one of the trusted companies like Microsoft or Google, is always a safe and professional choice.



Step 3: Enhance your online reputation

Experts advise against abandoning your social media pages and instead to leverage them in your favour. Your online reputation can be one of your greatest assets when separating yourself from the competition. Embrace the chance to promote yourself publicly and show potential employers why they should hire you.

If you haven’t already, set up a LinkedIn page and start building your professional network in your industry. By sharing and engaging with relevant articles, videos and posts, you are publicly showing you conduct yourself in a professional manner and have value to add. You can connect with us on LinkedIn here.

Complete our Digital Health Checklist and ensure you’re making the best impression you can, in-person and online.


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