digital-footprint

You leave a digital footprint everywhere you go and it contributes to your overall public image. It’s accessible to current employers, prospective employers and even marketing companies. Don’t get comfortable!  You might think you’re on your personal laptop, cell phone or tablet, privately communicating with trusted friends. But in reality, you are on the world’s largest stage speaking into a microphone, and everything you say can be recorded and published. This includes photos shared on social media sites, YouTube videos and blog posts. Once it’s out there, it contributes to your digital footprint and it could be out there forever.

That could come back to haunt you like Darth Vader during a job search.  Let’s face it – prospective employers are searching for STARS.  There are more job seekers than jobs in many industries, so the STAR WAR is on!  Managing your digital footprint can help you win the battle!

Do a Reference-Check on Yourself

It’s standard practice today for prospective employers to evaluate your digital footprint on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media profiles. They also routinely surf Google, Yahoo and other search engines.  What will they find?  Check it out for yourself!

Three or four recent posts on your social media may tell one story; however, a long line of posts over time may paint a completely different picture. Are you a gossip, a complainer, argumentative?  Do you cross boundaries, give unwanted advice, “boss-bash” or display a bad work ethic when posting online? Are you positive, creative, likable, loyal, dedicated?

What do your Facebook “likes” reveal about you?  Something as simple as a “like” contributes to your digital footprint.  Something to bear in mind next time your cursor hovers over that little “thumbs up.”

Consider the information/posts that you share on social media.  Although not originally created by you, the content or source of the original post can project an unwanted image via your social media platform.  It’s important to know what image you’re projecting – and whether that image is the “real” you. There are many tools to help you understand your digital footprint.  Some are free, some charge a fee.  The authors endorse none, but these are commonly used:

Google

sphero-bb8-topicMost job seekers know that they should search for their name with a search engine such as Google. But you should also search for your phone number, Twitter and email address to see what comes up. You might be surprised by what you find.

MyLife

This site searches the internet to find all of your public profiles. Some of the information may be sensitive in nature, and not the type of information you may want a prospective employer to see. There is a paid version of the service which gives you more options such as viewing online records, who has been searching for you on Google, and much more.

Spokeo

This is a people search engine that organizes White Pages listings, U. S. Public Records and Social Network information. A search returns phone numbers, addresses, emails, and photos.

Review Your Email Address and Voicemail

Your personal email address and voicemail greeting also contribute to your overall public image.  It is important to consider how these portray to prospective employers, as these can be a hiring supervisor’s first glance into getting to know you.  Avoid inappropriate and casual references in your email address.  An unprofessional email address can send a message that you are immature, lack self-awareness, and that you may not have the appropriate skills for the job.  Hiring supervisors or recruiters may also perform reference searches via your email address(s), so make sure they are professional and link to your career networks, portfolio or webpage.

Your voicemail greeting also speaks volumes to a hiring supervisor or HR recruiter.  Make sure you have a voicemail setup with a personalized professional greeting. Having a very casual or comical voicemail can send the wrong message!

May the Workforce Be With You!

yodaThink about the reputation you leave with your digital footprint. Will it help or hinder your job search?  Design and maintain a digital footprint to showcase your professional strengths and capabilities, so that the STAR a prospective employer seeks will be YOU!

Special thanks to Trish Woods, Manager of Employee Recruiting, for her help in writing this blog post!

Are you looking for your chance to shine? UMHB’s Career Services Center provides assistance to undergraduate and graduate students in career development and preparation endeavors. Interested in beginning a career at UMHB? Browse open job positions to take the first step toward joining the UMHB Family!