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A Guide to Your Digital Footprint

By Rebecca Foreman | March 29, 2024

Your Digital Footprint: How To Optimise Your Online Presence To Support Job Search 

In today’s digital age, being mindful of our online presence is becoming increasingly important, particularly during a job search.

As many employers use online platforms to learn about candidates before making hiring decisions, it’s crucial to know how much of your personal information is publicly available for others to view online.

In this article, we’ll explore what a digital footprint is, how it can impact your job search, and steps you can take to ensure your online presence aligns with how you want to be perceived by prospective employers.

What is a digital footprint?

A digital footprint is the trail of data we leave behind when using the internet, including social media posts, online comments, and website visits. Others can access and use this information to form an impression of us and our character.

How does a digital footprint impact a job search?

Employers are increasingly using digital media to research and assess job candidates. According to a survey conducted by a US job site, 70% of employers use social media to screen job candidates, and 57% of these employers have found content that caused them not to hire a candidate.

Your digital footprint can impact your chances of getting hired, both positively and negatively. Employers may use your online presence to assess your professionalism, communication skills, and how well you might fit within their company culture.

Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that your digital footprint portrays you in the best possible light and will lead to the most positive first impression of you.

“A digital footprint is the trail of data we leave behind when using the internet, including social media posts, online comments, and website visits. Others can access and use this information to form an impression of us and our character.”

Our top tips for optimising your digital footprint to support your job search

1. Google yourself

The first step in managing your digital footprint is to search your full name on Google. This can help you identify any potentially damaging information and take steps to remove it.

2. Make sure your social media accounts are professional

To ensure you’re presented well on social media, start by reviewing your profile picture and bio across all social media platforms that you use.

Next, examine your posts and posts you’ve been tagged in to ensure that they reflect your values and professionalism. With each piece of content, ask yourself, “Would I be okay with a potential employer seeing this?”.

If the answer is no, it’s safest to delete the content. This includes photos or videos that features foul language, unruly behaviour or anything that may be perceived as offensive or inappropriate.

3. Change your profile settings to private

If you’re concerned about sharing personal information with potential employers, you can choose to set your social media profiles to private. This will prevent anyone who is not your friend from seeing your information.

4. Be mindful about what you post in future

It’s important to be cautious about what you post online – both on your own social media accounts and posting comments or opinions on content created by others. Assume that anything you post online is permanent and could be seen by potential employers.

5. Monitor your digital footprint regularly

Monitor your digital footprint regularly to ensure any negative information or content is removed quickly. This can include reviewing your social media profiles, including content that others have tagged you in, and Google search results.

6. Use LinkedIn to showcase your professionalism

LinkedIn is a purpose-built platform to showcase your professional experience, skills, and education. Make sure that your profile is complete, up-to-date, and that the content is professional and relevant.

Upload a professional-looking headshot as your profile photo to create an excellent first impression. Ensure your appearance is clean, tidy, and that you’re looking directly at the camera with a pleasant smile. We recommend wearing a work-appropriate outfit such as a collared shirt and standing in front of a plain background.

Have a loved one take the photo for you, or utilise the timer function on your smart phone – it’s best to avoid a ‘selfie’ photo where possible, as this can come across as unprofessional.

Use your digital footprint to your advantage

Your digital footprint can be a powerful tool to use to your advantage during the job search process.

Use your online presence to showcase your interests, skills, and experience, and make connections with people in your industry. Consider joining Facebook groups or LinkedIn discussions that relate to your profession and use this as an opportunity to connect to other people in your sector.

If you’re seeking professional support in your employment journey, Navitas Skilled Futures has a range of Government-funded courses & programs available.

From the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) designed to strengthen your English and digital literacy skills, to the Skills for Work (SEE) program that can boost your confidence heading into the workplace, there are plenty of options to get your employment journey off to a positive start.

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