How Your Digital Footprint Can Help (or Hinder) Your Job Search

Posted by: on May 5, 2013 | Tags: Digital Footprint, , Personal brand, | No Comments


What would happen if a hiring manager gets your resume and says, “I think I’m going to Google [YOUR name], and see what comes up”?

Are you confident that the results would please or even impress that hiring manager?

Or would you be instantly rejected? Seventy percent of hiring managers have rejected job candidates based on what they found on social media

Everyone, but especially job candidates, should know what’s out there on the Internet about themselves.  Unseemly Facebook photos, maybe an angry or insensitive Tweet, a nasty comment on a blog post, an old and immature MySpace site…

Try Googling yourself and click on “Images.” Is the first picture from a party with you passed out or behaving badly at a bar with your friends? Not a great first impression, right?

This is what’s known as your “digital footprint”, or how your present yourself to the rest of the world online.

Having a healthy digital footprint can show potential employers your intelligence, your tech savviness, your portfolio of work, your industry knowledge, and, as a result, present you as a viable candidate for a future position.

Here are five steps to clean up and then buff up your digital footprint.

STEP ONE: Search for yourself  to establish that what’s out there is OK

Here are some tools to check out to help you clean up your digital footprint:

  • • Google, Bing, and Yahoo (type your name in quotes — “John Jones” — for the best results)
  • • (finds mentions of you in lots of place
  • • Facewash (now SImpleWash) (scours Facebook)
  • • Reppler (free service scans Facebook profile for bad stuff)
  • • BrandYourself (helps you make sure the results for a search of your name are good results)
  • • Social Mention (searches social media for mentions of you)
  • • BackTweets(searches for mentions of you on Twitter)
  • • (very expensive)
  • • Tin Eye (searches for your IMAGES everywhere!)
  • • Try Google Alert, Yahoo Alerts & Social Mention

STEP TWO: Remove or untag any “party time” pictures from your and your friends’ social networks.

You may have thought it was funny at the time or you enjoy reminiscing about those good old college party days, but job recruiters don’t share your enthusiasm and many times will judge a candidate based on a few irresponsible photos. So make the photos private or, better yet, just take them down and save them on your computer or in a private collection on a site like Flickr. If friends have tagged you in their photo albums, ask them to take them down or un-tag you.

STEP THREE: Check your privacy settings

Check your privacy setting on all your sites, but especially Facebook and Twitter. Here is a link to the Facebook privacy settings page. And here is a link to a simple step-by-step process to make your Facebook site less public.

STEP FOUR: Build your social resume

Build your profile on LinkedIn and BranchOut (Facebook’s version of LinkedIn). Using these sites can put you in touch with your industry and keep employers easily informed about your and your job experience. They also tend to be the first results of a Google search for your name.

STEP FIVE: Start a professional blog, and stick with it

After a complete LinkedIn profile, having a professional blog about a niche in your chosen field is the single most important thing you can do to build a positive digital footprint. It does three key things:

  • • Highlights and proves your skill sets
  • • Demonstrates your industry knowledge
  • • Puts you in touch with key industry players

Pick a topic that demonstrates your knowledge of a specific industry, do text, video and photo blog posts, and interview the key players (the same people you’ll go back to later to inquire about job openings in the field).

Here are some great examples of student or recent graduate “passion blogs” the authors have used to get career-launching jobs in the field of their dreams:

• How to Market to Me (Lindsey Kirchoff)

• SustainABiz (Igor Kharitonenkov)

• ElectroCity (Angela Bray)

Following these 5 steps is just the beginning! Having a “healthy” digital footprint requires regular updates to things like your LinkedIn and Branchout profiles, regular posts on your blog, and regular professional tweets.

The 21st Century job search is not your father’s job search (reading and replying to classified ads). It is heavily social-media based, which means success begins with a clean and robust digital footprint!


Creative Commons photo by dekade


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