Social media is the lifeblood of millennial culture. We live in a time when everything is photographed, documented, and made public for the world to see. Sometimes this can be a good thing – that writing competition you won may influence future employers to hire you. And those photos of your trip to Europe – make you look worldly and sophisticated.
However, that photo of you passed out on the bathroom floor of the club – not so great.
When applying for jobs there’s a high chance any interviewer is going to be interested in finding out more about you – outside of what you’ve written on your resume. And, thanks to the internet, it’s now laughably easy for them to do so. Now if you’ve never thought about your internet security before, there’s a good chance that every little thing you post online is out there for the world to see – good and bad.
Social media is no longer personal. It’s become a vital part of personal branding, and can influence how you’re perceived by others in the professional world. A Facebook page showcasing your party lifestyle may gain you friends, but it is likely to be off-putting to a perspective employer.
Some people might tell you to go offline completely– that the best way to fix your digital footprint is to not have one at all. But pulling a Ron Swanson and shunning all social media is not the solution. In fact, having no online present can actually be detrimental to you. In a world saturated with social media, by removing yourself from the game, you’re essentially becoming a ghost – uninteresting and unmemorable.
Control your content
There’s another drawback with completely unplugging – If you’re not controlling the content, someone else will.
Not everything posted about you online will come from you. Your name or face may appear in a friend’s tag, a news article, or even something completely random. And no one is immune from this effect – an online search of my own name revealed a dozen sites connected to me, with another dozen revealing an American Cheerleader with the same name who is most definitely not me.
So how do you take control of your digital footprint?
First things first – google yourself. If there’s a problem, this is the easiest way to reveal it.
The first page of google search results should be your focus, as most people don’t look any deeper than this. It’s not unusual for your social media accounts to show up on that first page of results, and employers will likely click on this as it will give them a good understanding of your character.
It is possible to present yourself positively on Facebook and Instagram – to ensure that you’re not tagged in anything that could portray you negatively to prospective employers. It’s a lot of work and monitoring, but it’s an option. The easier solution is to tighten the security settings on your accounts so that only people with your permission may view them.
However, before doing this – keep in mind – a well-managed Social Media profile can often be a useful tool for creative professions to show off their work. You can also try bumping negative google results down by creating new, positive web content such as a LinkedIn account.
It’s extremely important to be aware of how your digital footprint may affect your personal brand now and in the future. Unflattering search results can be a lot harder to remove than your average footprint.
Think carefully before you post something online. Unflattering posts are often like a bad tattoo – painful and difficult to make disappear.