Before you start your next job search, it is critical that you clean up your digital footprint and start using LinkedIn.
You may be asking yourself, “What does social media have to do with finding or keeping your job?”
Answer? Potentially a lot.
Research has shown upwards of 75% of employers research candidates online after receiving a job application.
And more than 70% of employers have decided not to hire a candidate based on something they found during an online search.
Clean Up Your Digital Footprint Before Your Next Job Search
One of the first things people do when they meet you is look you up online.
Whether you are meeting a blind date, getting a new boss, or need to see a doctor, for most of us, first comes the Internet search, then comes the handshake.
These days, Google is more than just a website. Now, it’s a verb.
And private citizens aren’t the only people investigating one another online. Employers are doing it as well.
If you think employers are only looking at what you provide in a job application and nothing else, you are sorely mistaken.
Employers are using every possible resource available to make hiring decisions.
To a large extent, the additional information companies consult about job candidates is found online.
You can control some of the information found online. But not all of it. Nevertheless, you should know what is out there in cyberspace about you.
If you are about to start a job search or are looking to grow your career, you need to clean up your digital footprint.
Here are 3 ways to clean up your digital footprint and use your online identity to your advantage:
Find out what is out there.
Start by Googling your name. Use both your full name and nickname if you have one.
This exercise helps you determine if there is anyone else with the same or a similar name to you.
If you feel the need to set yourself apart, you can manage your digital footprint by using your middle name or a shortened version of your name (Nick instead of Nicholas).
But unless you are in a specialized field or producing content or publishing, this is unlikely to be necessary.
A Google search will show all the websites where you are named.
Visit each site to determine whether there’s anything you would like to adjust or perhaps have your name removed from.
Then contact those page administrators and ask them to remove or edit your information (such as an outdated email address) if necessary.
Check Your Social Media
Social media is often where people get themselves in trouble.
You probably have at least one account you made years ago that you no longer use.
If you don’t deactivate it, everything you post remains part of your digital footprint.
Take the time to dive into your social media accounts.
Look through your photos and remove anything you wouldn’t want a potential employer or professional colleague to see.
Look at what you’ve posted, and the comments made on your posts.
If someone has used foul language, or anything that could be construed as derogatory or discriminatory, get rid of it.
Also, make sure anyone or any group you follow showcases the values you want to promote.
Control the Narrative by Building a Digital Footprint Employers Want to See
Employers expect to see a LinkedIn profile from high-quality applicants.
When many people start using LinkedIn, they treat it as an electronic resume. But there is a lot more you can do on LinkedIn.
When you apply for a job with a company, follow the company on LinkedIn. And connect with employees from that company as well.
Hiring managers check LinkedIn to see which candidates are following the company and its employees. Those job applicants get bonus points on their applications.
Fill in as much information as possible on your LinkedIn profile. Include your top skills. Contacts can then endorse you for those skills, offering social proof about your areas of expertise.
The best LinkedIn users treat it as a portfolio. You can post examples of your work and link to other sites that showcase your collaborations and achievements.
LinkedIn also gives you the opportunity to receive recommendations. Supervisors, direct reports, peers, and even clients are excellent sources of recommendations.
Ultimately, if you are looking to improve your job prospects and grow your professional reputation, clean up your digital footprint and start using LinkedIn.
Many people underestimate the power of these two exercises, but they have the potential to pay off exponentially.
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Next Episode: LinkedIn 101: How to Create an Effective LinkedIn Profile in 2022