Social media is a powerful tool in our lives, allowing us to connect with friends, family and even future employers. It’s an amazing way to build our identity online and show off what makes us unique. And while this is integral to certain careers like content creation, there is a flip side to it, too.
In a recent survey conducted by the popular employment resource, CareerBuilder, it came to light that 18 per cent of employers have fired someone as a result of something they posted on social media. And if that isn’t surprising enough, the survey also revealed that 70 per cent of employers thoroughly screen candidates’ profiles before making hiring decisions. While the ethics of such practices are certainly debatable, these findings serve as a crucial reminder that our online presence is visible not just to our social circle, but to a much wider audience.
As a student just starting your career journey, managing your social media presence is essential to protect your digital footprint and maintain your online reputation. Here, we take you through some tips to keep your digital footprint clean!
1. Wind back the clock
Begin by reviewing your existing social media profiles. Browse through your past posts, images and comments, keeping an eye out for any content that could be deemed inappropriate, offensive or controversial.
Remember that our perspectives and sense of humour evolve over time – something we might have found amusing in the past might not be in line with our current values or acceptable today. It’s important to make sure that your online presence is an accurate reflection of who you are now. So, don’t hesitate to remove or hide posts that no longer align with your beliefs or persona.
Additionally, take a moment to review your profile pictures and biographies, ensuring they project a positive image that aligns with your desired career and that you’d be proud to share with the world.
2. Tweak your privacy settings
One of the key aspects of protecting your online presence is limiting the visibility of your personal information and posts on social media. To do this, take the time to adjust your privacy settings on each platform. This will enable you to have control over who can see your content, friend or follower lists and personal details such as your email address or phone number.
On that note, be cautious about sharing personal information on social media platforms, such as your address, phone number or email. Avoid sharing information that could be used by criminals for identity theft or other malicious activities.
You may also want to consider using separate accounts for personal and professional purposes, which can help you keep various aspects of your life distinct and secure.
3. Pause before you post
Before sharing content on social media, consider the potential impact on your personal and professional life. Remember that future employers may view your profiles, so avoid posting anything that could be deemed unprofessional or controversial. As an international student, you should also be mindful of cultural differences; avoid posting anything that may be offensive or misunderstood in the country where you are studying.
You should also pause before sending certain messages, especially if your emotions are heightened. We’ve all experienced moments when we’re tempted to send a frustrated message in response to a situation, but it’s important to remember that once these messages are sent, there’s no getting them back. Anything you send can be screenshotted or documented, which could have lasting effects on relationships and reputations. Instead, give yourself time to cool down and reconsider your response. By doing so, you can ensure that your communication remains respectful and constructive, and avoid potential misunderstandings or conflicts.
4. Watch out when posting at work – it could cost you your job!
You might have seen a trend of TikTokers losing their jobs over their TikTok posts. One TikToker in the tech industry posted a video of her spilt coffee in her kitchen, but the real problem? You could hear her Zoom meeting happening in the background. The next day, she was fired for accidentally revealing confidential information to the public. There’s another case of a TikToker who lost her job at Gucci, all for showing off the clothes she was gifted by the brand on her account. The next day, she found herself out of a job for breaching the brand’s social media policy.
While these cases might seem a bit extreme, they’re important reminders to be extremely careful when posting on your personal accounts, particularly during work hours. So, if you’re tempted to share something while on the job, double-check that there’s no sensitive information in the background, no confidential papers in sight and that you’re not actually meant to be working when posting. It’s also important to be informed about any social media policies that may be in place at your work. Trust us, it’s not worth risking your job over a spur-of-the-moment social media post!
5. Google yourself
Don’t worry, it’s not a vanity thing. In today’s digital world, you don’t have to be a celebrity to show up on the first page of Google search results. That’s why we highly recommend regularly searching for your name on search engines and social media platforms. This way, you can keep track of your online presence and ensure that it aligns with both your personal and professional objectives.
- Review your privacy settings: Make sure your settings across different platforms are up-to-date, allowing you to share only what you’re comfortable with.
- Check for unauthorised access: Be on the lookout for any suspicious activity on your accounts or content that you don’t recognise, which could indicate someone has accessed your accounts without permission.
- Evaluate and update existing content: As you come across search results, you might find posts or images that no longer reflect your current values or goals. Feel free to delete or hide any content that doesn’t represent who you are today.
Now you know how to keep your digital footprint clean, here are some tips on how to curate one that will get you your dream job!