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Digital Footprints and How To Leave Your Mark
Like it or not, everywhere you go on the Internet; you are being watched. From the sites you visit, to the links you click, somebody somewhere is recording information about you. This information is called your digital footprint. It’s an online trail similar to walking in sand, anywhere you go leaves a virtual footprint.
There is a wide range of digital fluency levels today from the commonly tentative baby boomers, which tend not to trust anything online to the notoriously tech-savvy Generation Y. But with great power comes great responsibility.
Many people growing up in an increasingly technological age don’t realize that once something is online, it may be there forever. Knowing how to create a solid digital profile, as well as, understanding your digital footprint and its significance is vital to protecting yourself online.
Digital Footprint Management
If you want to know who somebody is, what’s the first thing you do? Most likely you would Google them! Well, you’re not the only one who has thought to do this. Many employers in professional fields look to Google, often before the interview process begins. If that doesn’t give them any idea of who you are, the next stop is social media platforms. Even with maximum privacy settings on, the people you know may friends of a friend. Basically, you never know who could have access to your information.
So how can you manage this digital shadow that follows you everywhere you go?
Protect your personal data: Try to limit personal information as much as you can. Banking information is a big one, try to avoid saving bank card numbers/information online especially if you’re new to a site.
Keep login info behind closed doors: It’s important to keep your usernames and passwords to yourself. You can’t control what other people will say about you, including releasing private information you confided in them. When it comes to account setup, always create your own personal security questions. The common template questions like “mother’s maiden name” or “city of birth” can often be unearthed with a simple five-minute search online.
Think before you post: As stated above, there is no way to tell who exactly will see the things you put on the internet and once it’s there it can be near impossible to remove. This includes things like pictures, inappropriate comments, etc. A good rule of thumb is to avoid posting anything you wouldn’t want a future employer to see. Check out 20 ways to send the right message on social media for more ideas on how to stay professional.
Google yourself: It might sound weird but if other people are going to do it you should too. It’s important that you are aware of the information others are able to find about you so that you can work to change anything you might not be too proud of.
Are there benefits of a digital footprint?
Before you add your digital footprint to the list of things that keep you up at night, it’s key to know there are positives to it as well. Your digital footprint is you, which means that you can decide how you are seen in the eyes of other online. Now that you know people are following your steps, you should take advantage of it. There are countless ways you can manipulate your online trail to benefit YOU! Think of it as an online resume and do things to improve it such as blogging, participating in professional groups, or designing a personal web page. Now that you know the basics of the digital footprint, you’re ready to leave your mark. Be the best digital ‘you’ that you can!
For more tips on how to keep your profiles professional check out some tips on how to build an online portfolio.