Leaving Digital Breadcrumbs Employers Want to See
The dawning of the digital age has brought with it a sense of limitlessness for humankind. Stepping across the divide that separates adulthood from the carefree years before it is an exciting journey towards freedom and independence. Dynamic advances in the digital realm have had a major influence on this transition period, especially for millennials.
Rapid technological advances, pounding at the shores of the new millennium, now redefine the way that we do life and work.
A New CV
Unsurprisingly, humans are now inhabitants of an infinitely smaller world. Innovation is booming thanks to the global collaboration of experts who are empowered by instant communication from any location. There are continuous interactions across cultures and continents.
Recruitment has also changed. Credit checks take only minutes to perform and platforms like LinkedIn provide copious details about potential candidates.
Social media is a popular tool to which recruiters are turning. What will a potential employer find on Facebook, casually scrolling through the neat record of online transactions? How will these discoveries affect the candidate’s chances of an interview?
It is essential to realise what complete strangers are able to glean online. Photographs, connections, experiences and memories are now available for public scrutiny. Think of all the personal data already available on a search engine, housed eternally in the depths of cyberspace. It is time to contemplate the digital breadcrumbs of your online presence.
It is a verifiable fact that employers use online information to supplement your job application. Most experienced recruiters care less about your qualifications on paper than who you are as a person; especially as a new graduate with little to show in the way of work experience or reliable character references.
A potential supervisor wants to know your interests, what motivates you, your habits, your talents and whether you will be a good fit for the organisation. They want to know if you have integrity. What do you do when others are not around?
A name and email address can track accounts, blog posts, social media presence and forum participation. It is not even that difficult if you think about all the connections between one social media account and another.
Facebook links directly to Twitter and Instagram. Twitter shows tweets, likes, interactions, favourites and replies, on a completely public platform. Gmail connects Youtube favourites, Google+ circles and LinkedIn profiles.
A qualification alerts a potential employer, who happens to have attended the same institution, to the student forums and campus interactions. The fellow alumnus who reads your curriculum vitae assesses strength of character based on the interactions found on the discussion forum. The same discussion forum you trolled after a ridiculous incident from five years ago.
“Come on!” you say. “Is there genuinely a chance of this happening?” Even the smallest probability of this occurring should be enough to motivate job-seekers and new employees to seriously review their digital footprint. It is more than credibility on the line; an unsavoury digital footprint prevents meaningful connections towards a successful career.
A Legacy Worth Building
Legacy is not a word often used by us young adults. Legacy is, by definition, something you leave behind for others. Technically, every social media user has begun to build an active digital legacy by joining a network.
A passive digital trail is information we do not know, or do not realise has been recorded by the system. Both an active and a passive trail are open for anyone to follow.
5 Steps to a Cleaner Digital Footprint
Where privacy settings are available, check personal and business-related posts, notes, tags, comment forums and photographs are suitably protected from the public. Nothing is ever truly private online.
Applications like Twitter operate openly in public spaces. These require drastic steps towards refinement. Untag or delete unwanted material, check through old comments and hide posts deemed unfit for public consumption.
Ask a trusted friend or parent to look through your public profile, checking for unsuitable information. This is a great way to discover undesirable posts that implicate you without your knowledge or permission.
For followers, Facebook friends and subscribers, it is safer to allow no tagging or comments on your account, or to choose the option that allows you to moderate tags, comments or posts before they appear on your profile.
This may be an obvious one for experienced internet users, but it remains one of the most important aspects of internet safety and protecting your digital footprint from unwanted attention. Change your password regularly and make it unique. Take time to log off public networks or portals and implement extra precautions to protect all personal devices from outside interference.
The Mom Test
If you do not want your mother seeing it then it shouldn’t be online. Like your loved ones, an employer wants to be proud of the people who are a part of the family. First impressions are incredibly influential. A digital legacy should demonstrate integrity, strength of character, trustworthiness, commitment to excellence and emotional intelligence.
The concept of legacy seems light years away from the adventures of life in your twenties, but it has already started to shape your future. Choose wisely when laying down the digital breadcrumbs that future employers will want to see.
Written by JobTeaser