For graduates, the job application process is challenging and time-consuming. Unlike the experienced seekers who know who is who on the market, yesterday’s students take multiple steps on their way to a dream job in software development.
Gathering all the accomplishments in a resume, psychometric testing, video interviews, and doing some test assignments — these are just a few steps to overcome. Another tiny detail most young specialists forget when looking for their first job is the need for digital decluttering.
Let’s face it, our digital presence has never been more substantial. We do everything online today: learning, shopping, communicating, looking for a job, etc. Every action leaves its mark, known as digital footprint recruiters check to dig deeper into a candidate’s background.
The minimum they can do is to google your name and look through your social media profiles. How you behave and the information you leave online can tell a lot about your personality and suitability for a job. Why bother, and how to manage your digital footprint so it doesn’t ruin your job prospects and future career?
Up to 80% of employers consider checking a candidate’s online presence a part of the assessment. The information you write — social media posts, photos, comments, or any other content — might hinder your chances of getting a job.
By researching your digital footprint, recruiters try to understand if your online presence reflects their brand’s values. They check if you build a personal brand to differentiate yourself from others in your field. Your social media accounts help to view you as a person: interests, stories you share, tone of voice you use to attract the audience, lifestyle choices, etc.
“In the age of AI, individuals harness the power of automation to craft online messages that sculpt their digital personas, forging reputations in the algorithmic gaze. It makes genuine personality traits as critical for employers as your professional skills and job experience.”
– Hugh Beaulac, Developer, EasyEssay.
Speaking out opinions you’d keep private in offline life can also influence your chances of success. The problem is most users know nothing about digital literacy and etiquette, considering the internet a place where it’s okay to show and tell crap with no accountability or consequences. They feel free to write abusive comments, demonstrate polarized views, share pictures of excessive partying, reveal their addiction issues, etc.
All this adds up to one immense portrait of yours for a potential employer, thus building your online reputation and overall impression of who you are.
Even if your social media profiles are private, it doesn’t mean a recruiter or your current employer can’t see what you write online. The comments you leave on random websites are available. Plus, there’s a practice to perform social media screenings to reveal a candidate’s personality.
It works the same with education facilities doing background checks to see if applicants fit their college. Any mentions of academic integrity violations, provocative deeds, or controversial behavior might lead to denying your application.
Not filtering your online voice can unintentionally leak sensitive information — colleagues’ personal details, trade secrets, intellectual property, etc. — that can be a security risk or lead to your company’s reputation and client trust loss. No wonder recruiters bother about it while still considering your job application.
Decluttering Your Digital Footprint
Say most graduates understand the importance of a positive online presence in their future careers. The question remains: How can you declutter all the outdated and controversial information that is able to ruin your job prospects?
First, it’s not simple to recall your entire digital footprint. Do you remember what you’ve posted and commented on across multiple channels over many years? Even if so, it’s impossible to erase everything, especially from third-party websites you have no right to moderate.
Second, you can’t foresee the conclusions others might make about a particular piece of information. How do you know which one to delete and which is okay to leave?
Some might want to go all-in and delete social media accounts, which is not a wise decision as online visibility equals legitimacy today. Online presence and reputation work like a resume: It presents your identity to the world, and there’s a fine line between the need to be visible and protecting your safety.
That’s what you can do to declutter their online presence before entering a job market:
- Google your name, or ask friends to do that for you and share the results. Check the findings and remove the outdated or controversial content about you (if you can). If featured by others, you can ask them to remove it or request Google to do that.
- Untag yourself wherever possible.
- Delete outdated accounts but work on existing ones.
- Keep personal affairs separate: Create a new email account for professional communication.
- Remember about digital privacy and do your best to maintain it: Use unique passwords, manage cookies, check if the websites you visit are secure, etc. Secure your network, and don’t use public ones.
- Limit the personal information you share online. Ask yourself, “Does the world really need to know this about me? What does this information tell about me?” Don’t share data that might help strangers identify you.
- Think twice before you hit “Send:” Never write posts when you’re angry or frustrated, and make self-censorship a habit preventing you from potentially controversial statements.
Technology is evolving and improving, becoming an integral part of our lives. We do everything online today: learning, shopping, falling in love, building careers, and more. A digital footprint is significant, and it can make us both win or lose. To reduce its negative impact and possible harm, let’s be digitally literate, declutter our online environment, and stay mindful about what we send to the universe via the internet.