Why we all need to think about our digital footprints

Why we all need to think about our digital footprints

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When you're looking for a new job, you always want to make a good impression on potential employers. You make sure your CV is free of errors, shine your shoes and put your best foot forward in all your dealings with them. But do you think enough about the record you've left of yourself on the internet – your digital footprint?

The internet is a powerful tool for employers to research job seekers. A vast majority – 70 per cent – use social media to screen candidates, according to a CareerBuilder-Harris poll. Yet it's not just social media you need to think about. Your entire online existence can influence your ability to be hired, for better and for worse.

Have some social-media savvy

Keeping your public social media profiles clear of any unprofessional content is a must when looking for a new job.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to imagine that everything you post publicly is seen by your boss. Would you be comfortable with what's out there? If not, you can dive into your settings and change the audience your social media content is accessible to. Facebook, for example, has settings available that let you alter the privacy setting for each and every post that's on your timeline. Just remember, commenting on public posts makes your comments visible to all, no matter the privacy settings on the rest of your Facebook account. 

This doesn't mean you have to censor your online life entirely, just that you need to be aware about who can see what. Our careers aren't everything, and we often want a private sphere to share with our close friends and family. Make sure this sphere truly is private, and you'll have avoided another candidate stumbling block.


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Like a footprint in the mud, your presence on the internet leaves a mark.

Yet you shouldn't approach social media cleaning only as a risk minimisation practice – it also has the capacity for positive employment outcomes. An impressive 44 per cent of employers have made hires after finding something they like on that person's social media profiles, according to the same CareerBuilder-Harris poll.

Google your own name

The other important step in tending to your digital footprint – alongside cleaning up your social media – is Googling yourself and finding out what comes up. Why? Because almost 70 per cent of employers will do the same, according to the CareerBuilder-Harris poll.

If an employer comes across something that puts you in a bad light, they might ask you to explain. Imagine, for example, as a student you wrote a piece for your university magazine about how banks are evil and should be broken up, and that this article is the first result that shows up when Googling your name. A fine opinion to hold for a student, but it probably won't do you any favours when applying for that job as a financial analyst at Westpac. Searching your name gives you the chance to prepare for the questions that this sort of thing might bring up.

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Articles or blog posts that reflect the opinions of a different "you" can come back to haunt you – be ready to contextualise them.


What you don't want to do, however, is wipe the slate clean. If there's no record or information about you when Googling, this could raise red flags for an employer. For example, if you describe yourself in your CV as being a "well-known consultant", a hiring manager would expect to be able to find evidence of this when searching your name.

For more information on how to succeed at finding yourself a new job, get in touch with the team at KLC Recruitment today.


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