Digital technology has become a crucial part of our work lives. While others browse through LinkedIn offers for new opportunities, others perform tasks directly linked to social media. Nonetheless, our digital presence and digital footprint have never been stronger. We do everything online, and every action leaves its mark. For instance, we might browse for new headphones only to notice that each ad we see online is for a different provider.
However, while our digital footprints are unavoidable at this point, learning how to manage them is essential. After all, more and more companies have dedicated personnel for digging deeper into candidates’ backgrounds.
That includes looking through search engine results linked to their name. On the most basic level, such research includes looking through the applicants’ social media profiles. Let’s see how specific online behavior might hinder your chances of getting a job.
What is a digital footprint?
A digital footprint is all your data and information that you leave online. Each time you create an account, leave a comment, or post a picture, you are increasing your digital footprint. That doesn’t mean you should start living off the grid to be safe – you must use the internet responsibly.
Always count on the fact that everything you post can be seen by your friends, family, coworkers, and your boss, no matter how private your accounts are.
Your data is stored on cloud computers, and the footprint stays. There are accounts that we just forgot to delete. It could be an old social network we stopped visiting or an online store we ordered from once that required creating an account. The digital footprint that we leave behind truly is great.
Even when you delete an account from a website you used, some residual data is always left behind. Even if you do not actively post or comment online, you leave digital footprints anyway. Such marks are called passive digital footprints, like browsing activities associated with IP addresses.
How it affects your future
People might go online under fake accounts on social media or other platforms. Then, they feel the freedom to speak out or post opinions they would normally keep private. All these comments, posts, and photos could return to haunt them in the future.
Education facilities might also do background checks on their applicants. Colleges may search for applicants’ profiles before deciding whether to admit someone. Everything you said or posted before applying for college can be seen and used – it might even lead to the college denying your application.
Future employers will usually search for you online when you apply for a job. Just because some of your social media profiles are set to private doesn’t mean that your future employer or current boss can’t see the comments you left on a random page or a website. For instance, a human resources representative might send you a friend invite if the hiring process starts going well. Then, they likely perform social media screenings to dig deeper into your personality.
Such specialists usually do not care about embracing or slightly misguided content. One of the key strategies is to look for any attempts to expose previous employers. Furthermore, having you as a friend on social media will help HR keep tabs on your comments on various posts.
Building a positive presence online
It is possible that you will feel discouraged from engaging online after learning the potential repercussions. However, companies worth your attention won’t reject you because of some memes. Having an active social media profile can work in your favor. For instance, if you apply to become a social media manager, your employer will expect to see polished profiles.
However, while digital footprints might work in your favor, they can also ruin your chances. Thus, consider the following tips for keeping your online presence cleaner:
- If you feel that specific search engine results linked to your name are misleading, request that Google remove them.
- Another thing you can do to protect yourself online is to limit the information you share about yourself, especially personal data that might help identify you.
- Create a separate email account for personal affairs and corporate communications. It helps keep things separate.
- Think twice before you post: anger and social media are never good ideas. In general, keep it clean online and be wary of statements that might seem controversial.
- Install a Virtual Private Network to stop IP-based tracking. A VPN for PC will mask your IP address as soon as you connect to preferred VPN servers. It also encrypts internet traffic, which can minimize other tracking techniques.
Apart from using a VPN and limiting the personal information you share; you should also check if the sites you visit are secure. On top of that, you should also secure your home network and avoid using public networks for safety reasons.
As technology has become such an integrated part of our lives, it is crucial to stay protected. Not only can your information get stolen in various data breaches, but the data that you share online and the digital footprint that you leave behind can affect your life.
From college opportunities to job prospects, the digital footprint we leave behind can significantly affect and even ruin our lives later. Additionally, we mentioned the ways we can stay protected online.