What you post on the Internet and social media is seen by more people than you know. It’s part of your digital footprint, which should be an accurate representation of who you are today.
Your digital footprint includes social media posts, comments you leave, and comments others leave about you; emails; photos you’ve posted and those of you posted by others; your YouTube activity; online purchases; even your Netflix genre of choice. Everything you do online is searchable and permanent.
People often meet your digital footprint before they meet you. It can impact whether you’re hired by a company or even accepted to your college of choice. According to CareerBuilder, 70 percent of employers use social networking sites to learn more about a job candidate. Of those that do, 43 percent found positive content that led them to hire the candidate — but 57 percent found content that caused them to pass on that person. Just this summer, at least five colleges rescinded offers to students for their social media posts.
Whether you’re transferring this fall or you’re still a few years away from entering the workforce, now is the time to start managing your digital footprint and online brand. Here are six tips, compiled from readings and videos in Employment Edge.
1. Google yourself.
It’s vital that you know what will come up when someone searches you. Google your name, or check peekyou.com. You want to make sure it’s obviously you and see what type of information is available. What would someone learn about you? What would an employer think? Review the first two pages of results.
2. Check your privacy settings.
Few of us actually read the privacy settings that we agree to when we create our social media profiles, but you really should. Make sure you have complete control over what others see, say, and share about you. Un-tag yourself from photos and posts that might send the wrong message, or delete them altogether.
3. Get on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn enables you to network with other professionals in your industry. It not only allows you to search for jobs, but it also allows recruiters and employers to search for you. Make sure your profile picture is professional, list important experience relevant to your field, and keep your profile updated. You’ll also want to incorporate your PTK experience.
4. Protect yourself from identity theft.
Create strong, memorable passwords that use a combination of at least 10 numbers, symbols, and upper- and lowercase letters. Avoid using common words. Ignore social media “games” that ask you to post personal info like your first pet’s name or the street you grew up on — these are often common security questions for secure websites. Finally, keep your antivirus software up to date.
5. Use your mobile devices wisely.
Set a password or lock pattern for your phone and tablet, so they can’t be accessed by others if you lose them. Review the apps on them regularly — what are their privacy or information-sharing settings? If you no longer use an app, delete it.
6. Build your reputation through your behavior.
Post only those things that contribute to the image of you that you want professors, admissions reps, and potential employers to see. Skip the negative tweets and keep critical comments to yourself. Instead, build a positive reputation by starting a blog or website that showcases your work, hobbies, or issues you’re passionate about. If someone posts something positive about you, share it to help it move higher in search results.