A quick Google of the term, tells us that: “On the internet, a digital footprint is the term used to describe the trail, traces, or footprints that people leave online”. If you conduct any form of activity online, this means you. It doesn’t matter whether it’s just Facebook, or LinkedIn, or even Reddit. You leave a trail that can be followed, simply by your activity, things you look at, or websites you comment on.
Whether this content describes you best or not, is completely up to you.
Whether this content describes you best or not, is completely up to you. We’ve all heard the saying that anything you put online is there forever, and it’s true. Sort of. You see more and more often, employers do quick Google Searches on their prospective employees, and search engines tend to prioritise information according to its relevance to the search. So in the example of Reddit, unless you’re silly enough to use your real name as your username, nothing will show up in the results from your activity there.
But what does show up then? The information varies from person to person, and it’ll also vary according to what your online activity is actually like. This is where you go, what you do, but also most importantly, memberships you have to different websites. We’re all familiar with just how often websites of different types try to get you to create an account. When you get a little lazy over time, you’ll sometimes just use that tasty little “Login with Facebook” button, instead of creating an actual account. That’s where things get interesting.
The ability to login to different sites using Facebook, Twitter, or even Google Accounts sure does make things easier. But the downside is that as soon as you do that, all of your personal information from that social media site is then available to that third party website. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll try to use it nefariously, but it does increase your digital footprint. Suddenly where a quick Google search on you might have only revealed your Facebook page, it now shows your profile on that third party website as well.
The higher paid the position, the more likely it becomes that the employer will want to conduct a little investigation into your online activity.
This is precisely what we’re talking about here: Information on you, based on your actions online. This can be both good and bad, depending on your interests. For example, in America recently there have been several policemen shown in the media whose digital footprint revealed that they were supporters of white supremacist websites. While this example is certainly extreme, it shows how not being aware of your own actions can suddenly leap from the land of privacy to being out in the open.
This can be especially bad for people when they’re looking for work. The higher paid the position, the more likely it becomes that the employer will want to conduct a little investigation into your online activity. In reality, this is not unreasonable, nor is it an invasion of your privacy either: The information is there for all to see anyway, and you’re the one who put it there. It is not much different from having to undergo a police check before starting a job. Employers want to know everything they can about you, before they make a decision to trust you.
Only you can fix your digital footprint.
Your digital footprint does matter in the recruitment process, and the investigation of people’s online activity is definitely going to continue to grow in the future. While Impressability offers several packages in ascertaining and examining your digital footprint, we all need to think carefully about what we do online, what we say, and where. If you don’t care, then don’t be surprised when you don’t get that job you really want. You’ll never know why you didn’t get it either, because they are under no obligation to tell you that it was because of your online activity. You can ask, for sure, but remember that they can always simply brush you off. And they will.
Only you can fix your digital footprint. We’ll do several blog posts shortly on this subject, providing you with some of the tools and ways of altering how other people perceive you due to your online presence. We’re all human, and we all do things where afterwards we think, “Oh I probably shouldn’t have done that.” To err is human. But consciously keeping this in mind will definitely help you in the future as your online interactions become more and more relevant to your life away from the internet.