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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 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.
Recruiters often use Social Media during the recruiting process to source and qualify candidates. Something you should start doing right away with all your digital profiles that will help manage your digital footprint is to change your privacy settings. Adjust your Facebook privacy to control what is public and available for people outside of your network to see. You can do the same with your Instagram privacy so that you are able to maintain a positive image.
Of course, the best approach is to not have anything you would worry about recruiters seeing at all! Get into the habit of keeping from posting questionable material or photos that can hurt your chances of employment in the future. When possible, avoid arguing about controversial subjects and getting involved in online arguments. You aren't anonymous on the internet anymore, so avoid doing anything you don't want on record.
How To Leave Your Mark
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 to name a few.
Create a free digital profile with ProSky today and get started building your digital reputation! With a ProSky profile, you'll be able to start doing projects and challenges, and you'll accumulate badges as you complete tasks. Prove that you have the skills and build up a profile history. These profiles will then be seen by companies that are ready to hire and can pave the path for you to start your career.
Another easy way you can improve your digital footprint is through your social media accounts. For example, if you have a Twitter account, start using it to following industry influencers and tweet relevant articles across your existing profiles. Building connections with influencers and networking in this way is a great stepping stone to gaining followers and establish your reputation as an expert in the industry.
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.