5 Tips for Managing Your Digital Footprint and Online Reputation

Did you know that what you do online could determine your future? That’s because employers and universities often look at your “digital footprint” when deciding whether to give you an opportunity, or not.

Your digital footprint includes everything you say and do online, including casual “likes”, fun photos, and comments, as well as the information you intentionally post to promote yourself, such as online resumes and professional profiles. This is why you should take some time to manage your online reputation.

A recent study by CareerBuilder found that 70% of employers use search engines and social media to screen candidates. What’s more, 54% of employers surveyed said that they reconsidered candidates after getting a bad impression of them online.

This situation should be especially concerning for younger adults who are entering the job market for the first time, after years of carefree posting.

And if you think that once you have a job you can forget about looking after your digital footprint, think again. Employers also said that they check employees’ online presence when considering promotions.

Even colleges and universities rely on social media checks to get a better sense of applicants, according to a recent survey of admissions officers.

Of course, having a negative online presence is one problem, but having no presence at all is an even bigger red flag, so don’t start deleting profiles and accounts, or making everything “private”.

Over half of employers surveyed said that they are less likely to interview a candidate with no visible presence online. In this age, everyone is expected to have a digital footprint—it’s what that footprint says about you that matters the most.

So, how do you make sure that your digital footprint gives a good impression of you?

Here are some important tips:

  • Start Online Awareness Early—It’s easier to build a positive digital footprint from a young age, than to clean up a questionable presence later on. (When you consider that many kids get a smartphone at the age of 10, editing 8 years of online activity before college could be a real chore!) Talk to your kids about the importance of giving a positive impression online before they engage. When you do decide to let your kids connect, make sure to use parental controls that limit the kinds of content they can access, and protects them from online threats.
  • Be cautious about over-sharing—Yes, social media was made for sharing, but try to avoid venting online or engaging in heated arguments. If you have a problem with someone, talk it out offline.
  • Turn off tagging—Just because you’re paying attention to your online reputation, doesn’t mean your friends are. Being “tagged” in photos or videos you didn’t post could leave you open to the wrong impressions. That’s why it’s best to turn off tagging in your social media settings.
  • Keep positive content public—If you have a great online presence, sharing your accomplishments and skills, make sure to make the posts public. This goes for your social channels, as well as your professional profiles.
  • Be yourself, but speak clearly and respectfully—Show your unique personality and creativity, since people respond to genuineness But remember to be articulate in the process. Check posts for spelling or grammar errors before you hit “send”, and avoid offensive language. When commenting on other people’s posts, do it respectfully.

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