How to manage your digital footprint
It’s always a good idea to regularly check your online presence, especially before you start looking for your next job. It is important to know what anyone in the public domain can see about you and tweak your online profile in order to ensure a positive digital footprint. An online background check by recruiters and employers is common practice these days and unlike with a meeting or an interview, you can’t see who is checking you out.
So how do you manage your digital footprint?
Start by doing a Google search on yourself and see what links, profiles and images come up in the results. Don’t be afraid to delve past the first two pages of results in Google. There could be extra links hidden in the lower pages that you had forgotten about but should be aware of.
You can also try logging out of your social media accounts and searching for your name in each network to find out what can be seen on your profile from an outsider’s perspective.
Then comes damage control (if needed) – where you can go about adjusting your account settings to restrict what can be seen easily by the general public, and to update any key information about you, your contact details and current or past work history.
Once you have the background basics covered the key is to consistently adhere to the following guidelines to ensure best practice going forward when managing your online reputation.
10 tips for managing your digital footprint
- Be consistent and professional in what you say online
Ensure your posts are truthful, factual, something you believe and something appropriate for your boss/parent/mentor to read. Operate under the assumption that nothing is private or sacred on the internet. It’s almost impossible to delete something permanently so if in doubt, don’t post. It’s also best to avoid getting drawn into a heated debate online in a public forum, or even in ‘private’ exchanges that could easily be shared unbeknownst to you.
- Be aware of what other people are saying about you online
You can adjust your account settings to have notifications sent to you when other people mention you, tag you, like, comment or share content on your feed. You can also enable approval rights when you are tagged in other people’s posts or photos, so they don’t automatically appear on your timeline unless you’ve reviewed and approved them.
- Be accurate – check spelling and grammar in your profiles and posts
Take time to check that your profile information and posts include correct spelling and grammar to maintain your aura of professionalism. It’s important to remember that poor writing, no matter how casual the communication, can be a big turn-off to someone checking up on you.
- Be sure – get a second opinion on your profile pictures and text
Ask a work colleague or friend if they would do business with the person in your profile? If not, change it and ask again.
- Be current – have up-to-date information
No matter what stage you’re at in your career, whether you are looking to do business, build your network or looking for a job – having up-to-date information on your profiles will ensure that people will be able to contact you and know what you’re about.
- Be savvy – incorporate appropriate keywords in your profiles and posts
Think about what words potential employers or recruiters would use in trying to find someone like you in relation to what you do. Incorporating keywords in your profile specific to your skills and job experience will help you get found in relevant searches, and will point employers to your background or interests as they relate to opportunities in their organisation. It could also help you to expand your networks by connecting you with like-minded people.
- Be considered with your contacts
You can and should connect with whomever you like, but don’t feel the need to connect with people you don’t want or need to, or keep connections if they are a detriment to you.
- Be clutter-free – close down accounts you don't need
There is no point in having accounts open or visible if you don’t use them.
- Be proud of your achievements
Include extra information in your profiles about hobbies, interests, awards, volunteering and charity work. Friends, employers and business networks will all be interested to read about your other successes.
- Be thorough – check your profile settings periodically
Make a habit of checking your profile settings periodically. Social networks are constantly evolving their platforms and as a result their terms, conditions and management settings may change too.