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Understanding your digital footprint

Understanding your digital footprint and how it can help or hinder your next job application

Using social media is often a blur of scrolling, posting, clicks, likes, and tags. You don’t think too much about what you’re sharing because you figure the only people who’ll see what you’re posting are your friends and family.

But that’s not always the case. Because your digital footprint is of interest to more people than you might first assume.

What is a digital footprint?

Your digital footprint is essentially the record of your online presence. It can be as easily found as doing a quick Google search of your name. But a more in-depth footprint can be uncovered by looking into people’s active and passive data.

Active data

Your active data is when you, by choice, share something online. Whether it’s personal information like a tweet or a photo you upload to Facebook – that’s active data.

Passive data

Passive data is information collected about you, often through other sources. For example, if you visit a website to search for a product or service, websites may collect that data and link it to your profile or IP address. Or pass it on to a third party. It’s passive because you did not release the data by choice.

Why it matters

To put it simply, it’s common today for potential employers to search for your digital footprint. Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter allow employers to get an insight into who you are beyond what you choose to include in your resume. They’re generally looking to find out a little bit more about you and to see whether they think you’ll be a good fit for the company culture.

Today, around half of all employers check social networking sites to screen prospective employees after receiving their job application. The most commonly checked site is Facebook, followed by Twitter, and LinkedIn.

So while platforms like LinkedIn are a fantastic resource for job seekers, allowing them to check daily on new job opportunities or get insights into companies they’re interested in, it’s important to remember that social media platforms are two-way mirrors. They also give employers a direct view into your social media presence including any comments linked to your name, things written about you, things you’ve written, and even posts that you’ve liked. Therefore what they find can be a determining factor to you successfully getting a job.

Auditing your digital footprint

So what’s the best way to find out how you appear to the outside world? By conducting an audit.

Step 1

First, simply Google your name and find out what’s out there about you. It’s handy to know in advance the information that is most readily attached to your name.

Step 2

Ensure your profiles are all set to private if you don’t want people to find you. You’d be surprised how often your privacy settings can change as new versions of platforms are released or if you change your smartphone for example. Go into the settings and double check you understand what you’re allowing others to view. You can set your tweets to “private”, meaning external users will need to request access to follow you and view all your posted content.

Step 3

Make sure the pictures you have online are appropriate for your line of work – do they project the image that your potential workplace will approve of? Don’t forget that the internet has a long memory. So in some cases you might have to go pretty far back into your Facebook history for example to make sure those photos your friends took of you at that party 10 years ago are still something you’d be happy for your future manager to see.

Putting your best foot forward

Remember that just because employers can look into your digital footprint – this doesn’t mean you need to remove your entire personality from the internet. You’re still human and no one expects to see social media profiles only containing pictures of you helping old ladies cross the street. You just need to be aware that what you have publicly facing is all appropriate content.

To find out more about what employers are looking for in today’s best talent, contact the experts at Finite920.

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