What digital footprint are you leaving behind?
With most of the world active across various social media platforms and online networking sites, it can be easy to forget that what you put online about yourself leaves an impression that can be difficult to erase.
So, if you’re ready to jump into a new role, shift your career or take that promotion, it’s important to consider how your online presence could affect your career goals and professional identity.
To help navigate this tricky and potentially sticky situation, we’ve listed some great tips that will help you do a complete audit of your social media and networking profiles to ensure anything about you online establishes a clear boundary between work and your personal life.
1. Review your current digital footprint (aka google yourself)
Your digital footprint is all the information that exists online about you. Some of the information may come from you and some may come from previous workplaces, your online friends, and mobile apps or third-party websites.
The first step to protecting your privacy online is searching for the publicly available information about yourself on the internet. Google yourself to see what websites feature any of your personal details, including images.
Any time your name is mentioned in search results, click through to see what sort of websites these are – are they appropriate and would you feel comfortable with a potential employer also being able to access this information and imagery about you when they run a simple online search?
If you find information about yourself that’s inappropriate, contact the person or website to request the information and images be removed as soon as possible. Some things will never be deleted from the internet, so always consider if it’s worth posting or commenting on.
2. Audit your social media & apps
As the lines blur between personal and professional online identities, double check your personal identity or the information you’d rather be private is actually private.
We all use social media recreationally to connect with friends and family, but it’s important to understand who has access to the information and images you post on your personal profile pages.
Social media profiles
Go to your social media profiles and ensure your settings are set to “private”, which means that only those you’re connected to, or friends with, can view them. Check your privacy settings as well – it’s possible to prevent people from tagging you in statuses and images, or commenting on your posts, which can help in creating a greater element of privacy on social media.
Have a look through the public tags in your accounts and remove any that may not be appropriate or contact the person who has tagged you and ask them to remove the tags. Even though your account may be private, if others do not have the same stringent privacy settings you do, employers will be able to see where other people have tagged you.
If you have old or inactive social media accounts, it’s an ideal time to delete them as part of your audit. But remember, even though you’ve deleted an account, nothing is ever truly deleted from the internet.
When you’re auditing your social media, it’s also a good time to check which mobile apps on your phone or tablet have access to your personal information, and your photo library. Many mobile operating systems will allow you to implement a transparency tracking option to ensure those devices are accessing and protecting your information as safely as possible, and you can also request mobile apps don’t track your activity across other websites.
Auditing your social media and apps is not about restricting what you post and share but ensuring the information you are making publicly available does not hinder your ability to grow in your career.
3. Enhance your professional presence
Now that you’ve reviewed your digital footprint and audited your social media and apps, it’s time to enhance your professional presence online.
The world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn, is the place to start. Most people have a LinkedIn account but as the network continues to exponentially grow, invest time in updating or creating your LinkedIn profile. It is a great place to highlight your qualifications, skills and workplace history and the perfect way to interact and connect with people in a strictly professional manner.
LinkedIn is fantastic for content marketing and a place where you can publish your own research, stories and interests while also requesting feedback through polls, articles, and comments. Actively posting content and engaging in online discussions is a powerful way to network and not only allows potential employers to be exposed to you but be impressed by your expertise.
Growing your online professional identity also allows current and prospective employers to recognise your core values and how you might include these in your workplace and your interactions with your team. The digital footprint you start to create using LinkedIn or other industry networking sites can boost your career and provide new and exciting opportunities.
There is plenty of room for both a personal and professional presence in our complex online world. Maintaining privacy around your personal life while ensuring you spend time growing your professional identity is a great way to open career opportunities and ensure a photograph from eight years ago doesn’t come back to haunt you