Cleansing Your Digital Footprint
We hear this all of the time: be careful what you post online. While some of us scoff at this recommendation, we need to heed this advice. While we may think that posting photos of our friend’s party from last weekend are funny at the time and display the college lifestyle, those photos could come back to haunt us years down the road.
Things that live on the Internet rarely ever die, after all. They can always be accessed in archives. Smartphones are changing the way we do things, and they certainly are changing the college experience. It wasn’t too long ago that I was on the other side of the desk, detailing my education and job experiences during interviews. Now, I own my own business and have to make hiring decisions, and I had to also do this during my previous jobs in the nonprofit sector. Trust me when I say this: potential employers do look at your social media accounts, websites and more. If you’re in a highly visible profession or want to be, such as public relations or other communication-based professions, your employers will look for your digital footprint even more.
Here are some ways to cleanse your digital footprint, according to The Balance:
Take off your full name, birthday and other personal information from your social media sites. And it’s never safe to post your mailing address. If you use your cell phone for business-related activities, still be mindful of posting it everywhere. Don’t put up too many personal photos, like of your pets, children and family and friends. Hackers could use those things against you. Don’t give them the bait.
Never post about when you’re on vacation. Sure, your friend may be feeding your dog, checking your mailbox and making sure your house is OK while you’re out of town, but it just begs people to invade your privacy — and your home.
You never know what the future holds. Avoid ranting on social media. It puts you in a bad light and typecasts you as the resident digital complainer, but it could also cause you a job in the future. If you complain about your cable television company on social media but apply for a job there two years down the road, your social media rant could honestly cost you the job.
Don’t show your full hand. You’ll want to keep a social media poker face. Don’t lament about your overbearing parents or talk about deep-rooted emotions. Don’t post your dirty laundry — or anyone else’s. If you need to talk with someone, consider chatting online with a mental health professional or reading through advice columns on Betterhelp.com. Keeping your personal feelings away from social media can help you avoid backlash and unnecessary drama. Plus, you will be working on improving yourself and your digital image.
Put things you want people to see. Create a LinkedIn profile, blog, Google account and more that highlight your job history, skill sets and other communications about you and your career and personal brand. Be authentic in your communications but be strategic. Limit your car and gym selfies, which can damage your credibility. Did you just get a new Nintendo Switch or piece of workout equipment? Don’t brag about what you have or invite people in your home to steal what you have worked hard to get for yourself.
In today’s digital age, all of us have our own personal brands online. Stay true to yourself but always be mindful of what you post.