Escaping the Negative Zone

Could your digital footprint be getting in the way of your dream job? The trail you leave behind as you click, comment and confess online is not as invisible as you might think, and you might find yourself in quicksand if you aren’t careful where you tread. Anybody who uses the internet regularly has a digital footprint – but not everybody knows what that is. Luckily, The Internet Society put together a nice definition: 

“Your digital footprint is all the stuff you leave behind as you use the Internet. Comments on social media, Skype calls, app use and email records – it’s part of your online history and can potentially be seen by other people, or tracked in a database.”

In this series, we’ll be exploring a few things you can try if you’re concerned about HR stumbling upon something they shouldn’t. You know. That.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the way we present ourselves online is also a reflection of our offline personality. In fact, many of us deliberately try to curate an online personality that makes us seem more exciting, more cultured, or more attractive than we actually are. But what happens when our online persona is distinctly unflattering from a professional perspective?

These days, at least 70% of employers make a point of checking social media before hiring. Unfortunately for some, a little light googling can bring up all sorts of things we’d rather not show our future boss – and according to Fama Technologies (and their content screening algorithms), it seems like a lot of us have some skeletons in our closets. Sexism, misogyny, bigotry, racism and hate speech look really ugly on a CV.

#1: If you’re posting it online, make sure it’s helpful, supportive, insightful or interesting. 

In short, don’t share nasty things. You might think this is common sense, but just ask the people who couldn’t resist the urge to vent about their boss (or their colleagues) on social media – apparently forgetting that they’d already accepted friend requests from their boss (and their colleagues). Not that long ago, an employee shared that her office was like working ‘in a nursery’, and when her line manager was informed, she was fired without notice for possible reputational damage.

Those who get a kick out of being “un-PC” (synonyms: intolerant, parochial) should consider the cautionary tale of Justine Sacco, the racist-on-a-plane who touched down to find she’d lost her job in transit. Oh, and try not to complain about customers, either. Big brands don’t like that, and they really don’t like it when their employees do things like incite violence, or post inappropriate pictures of clients on the toilet.

Basically, engage your brain and always make sure the footprints you’re leaving are good – don’t share receipts that can be used against you later. Yes, you can be fired for being insulting about your workplace (misconduct is misconduct), and if it comes up when you’re being vetted by a recruiter, your chances of being called in for a second interview drop dramatically

By all means, express yourself about your tyrannical CEO and make fun of can-I-talk-to-the-manager haircuts – but do it quietly, and not where Sandra from Accounts can see – because her nephew just showed her how to take screenshots on her iPad. 

Watching your step? Finito will do a full review of your digital footprint and help you to shape one that fits the career you’re in (or hope to be in). Discover how The Employability Experts can help you take your career to the next level.