Your Digital Footprint – Making or Breaking Your Job Application?

Written by Silje Undlien, Third Year War Studies undergraduate at King’s College London & Marketing Assistant at King’s Careers & Employability.

If you’re job-hunting, social media can be a useful tool for networking and finding opportunities. In this day and age the ability to cultivate an online presence to your own benefit is key! But remember, first impressions are powerful – and being aware of your digital footprint has never been more important!

Your digital footprint is the trail of digital data you leave behind you. It can be the tweet you just wrote about Game of Thrones, your new profile photo on Facebook captioned “the mondayest Tuesday ever”, or the Instagram photos from last Saturday’s crazy party. These so-called footprints include both “passive” (you may not even know that you’re leaving this information behind!) and “active” (the information you leave behind when you make deliberate choices on the internet, i.e. on your social media channels) data, and they allow anyone to make a quick Google or Yahoo search with your name to see what pops up.

So… what does this actually mean for your career prospects? 

Your digital footprint can make or break your job application. It could leave an employer or recruiter with the YAY or NAY attitude that could determine whether you get that important interview invite or not. How you conduct yourself online can give an employer or recruiter clues as to what you’re really like. It might also give them an indication of what you’ve left out of your CV and job application. Whether you think it’s fair or not – you can be sure that they’ll make preconceptions based on what a quick Google search might reveal about you.

Then… what can you do to enhance your employability? 

Your digital footprint can be your worst enemy or your best friend. That’s why we’ve created a list of 10 easy steps to make if you’d like to assume control of your online reputation and identity. And why wouldn’t you want that?

Here it goes:

10 Steps to Save Your Online Reputation

Step 1: Think about what you’re posting. Keep in mind that even if you’re not currently job-hunting, your employer might be paying your social media accounts the occasional visit. Keep inappropriate content off your social media accounts at all times!

Step 2: Check your privacy settings, and make sure you add protection to your profile(s) where you lack it. Your safest bet is to always choose ‘Friends Only’ when given the option.

Step 3: Think about your extended digital footprint. Be aware that also your associations on your social media accounts can affect you and your reputation. Be sure to control the things you’re tagged in!

Step 4: Search yourself! Did anything that could be off-putting to a potential employer pop up? Make sure you take the necessary steps to remove anything that could damage your rep!

Step 5: Delete social media accounts you’re no longer using.

Step 6: Be mindful of the impressions your photos give off.

Step 7: Build a personal brand online! It’s true, your digital footprint can also support your career prospects and job applications. Ignoring social media completely is rarely the solution. It’s all about having a good digital presence… So make sure you use your social media accounts to create a good impression of yourself.

Step 8: Use LinkedIn to promote your professional skills and experience.

Step 9: Pay a visit to the King’s Career Kit to read all about how to effectively use LinkedIn and social media in your job search.

Step 10: Not sure where to start? Try a social media clean-up challenge to optimize your social media footprint. It’s definitely time for a social media spring clean!

So here you have it – 10 easy steps to make your digital footprint your new best friend. It pays to be social media savvy!