So, what we say online stays with us. We all know that really. But do we do much about it? Can we shape what is up there? Here are some tips.
by Dan Slee
Should I be worried about my digital footprint?
It's a truth universally acknowledged that your digital footprint will say a lot about you. A heck of a lot.
It's also true that recruiters are paying ever closer attention to what you are saying and doing online. A survey for Reppler showed that 91 per cent of recruiters were taking a look online as part of their selection policy and there's a great post here from Talk About Local on how a recruiter uses social search. If you are moaning all day on Twitter you'll probably not get very far, the recruiter says.
University students are being taught how to use social media without damaging their future job prospects.
As the social media cliche goes, what happens in Vegas will stay on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo.
So isn't it about time you gave your digital footprint a bit of a spring clean?
You can Google yourself and see what's there. Or for a deeper look there's an app for that. The rather marvellous pipl.com allows you to scour the web, search publicly available records and a whole pile of other places too.
From this you can see a pile of things which you may or may not be keen for potential employers to take a closer look at.
But once you see the pile of sombrero pictures, status updates, court reports and images it's a different matter altogether to do something with them.
Abine's Delete Me service removes you from some places. But the task of going across the web to take down offending as Jemima Kiss explains on this excellent Guardian video you can render your Facebook account inactive. But first you must explain yourself by giving a reason and avoid the messages about how this or that friend will really miss you. But once you do make yourself inactive all your pictures and data remain the property of Facebook itself. So if you think the trip to Magaluf can be consigned to history think again.
Lifehacker has a really good resource here that allows you to keep up to date with the constantly shifting Facebook privacy settings. They suggest pay attention in particular to the apps you've allowed access to your profile and who has tagged you in pictures.
Twitter is comparatively easy to delete. You have the option to do that in your settings although tweets may well stick around as screenshots and on other curating platforms that preserve web updates. So, the Red Cross that spoke of getting hammered that was accidentally posted from the wrong account will stay with us forever. And so will their PR casestudy that helped turn it around a little.
But before getting too carried away with the internet and how it can harm your job prospects it's not actually all bad.
That good work you've done that got posted online and blogged about is here to stay too. So, its really not a case of worrying solely about rogue sombrero pictures. You can celebrate the good stuff to. There's real merit in being connected, being helpful and contributing towards online discussion.
But never has the Channel 4 social media advice of not posting anything online that would 'make your boss look a d**k' been more wiser than what you say online yourself.
As Charlie Beckett, POLIS director at the LSE, says:
"Everyone's career will be understood by what we say through online communications such as Facebook, Twitter and email. So learn to be digitally articulate online."
Three resources for improving your digital footprint:
- Recruiter Andy Ball's tips on brightening-up your LinkedIn profile posted to comms2point0 is brilliant advice for improving your digital footprint. You can read them here.
- Gretel Patch of Boise State University has posted an excellent slideshare on the 10 Be's of My Digital Footprint. You can read them here.
- It can be fun too. Take a tour around Intel's Museum of Me which bases a virtual exhibition on posts and images you've shared. You can do that here.
Dan Slee is co-founder of comms2point0. He also blogs here.