Don't Let Your Digital Footprint Affect Your Career

Photo by Adem AY on Unsplash

In today’s world, almost everyone has some kind of digital footprint online. Whether it’s a social media account, forum comments, or product reviews, how much do you remember about what you said back then? After all, the people we are as adults are often a lot different from how we were back then.

It’s becoming more and more common for people’s digital past to come back to haunt them and affect their careers. We’ve seen it a lot with celebrities over the past few years as well as regular people.

HR teams and recruitment companies now routinely look into the online profiles of potential employees to see if there’s anything there that could potentially damage the company’s reputation.

So how can you reduce the potential damage of your digital past on your career?

Revisit your social accounts

Look back through all of your social accounts, whether you still use them or not. Chances are you won’t remember a lot of what you wrote when you were younger and it might surprise you. Delete any old accounts and posts which might cause you issues or might be misinterpreted. There are online reputation management profile defenders out there that are capable of finding even the most obscure information from your past.

Remove any content and untag yourself from images that aren’t particularly flattering to you.

Research by Recruiter Nation found that the following types of content were red flags for potential employers:

  • Talking about drug use or posting pictures smoking marijuana etc.

  • Political vitriol

  • Swearing and abusive language

  • Poor spelling and use of grammar

  • Displays of wealth

  • Too many photos of alcohol drinking and partying

Don’t say anything stupid

Your behavior online can cost you a job offer, or even your existing job. When posting or engaging online, think before you do it. Don’t post angry or upset. Don’t enter into vicious arguments or bad-tempered exchanges with people on their profile either. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be trolling.

Lock your accounts down

Make your social accounts private. There have been some stories of recruiters asking to see the private accounts of prospective employees before offering them a position. Whatever the legal and moral ins and outs of this may be, keep your accounts private can stop someone from easily finding your accounts with a simple Google search.

Final thoughts

The jobs market is very competitive and candidates are looking for every edge. With recruiters focusing a lot of effort on background checks, you can realistically expect them to at least do a cursory internet search before hiring you.

Certain professions are very careful and may do a more thorough search, uncovering the information you may not even have known was online.

Like all things, there is a balance. You want your online presence to reflect who you are as a person, with all the ups and downs that entails. A good rule of thumb is to think before you post or respond to anything and ask yourself what your parents or potential employers might think about it. If in doubt, don’t do it.