What is a Digital Footprint & Why is it Important?

What is a Digital Footprint & Why is it Important? image of black woman on smartphone and smiling

What is a Digital Footprint & Why is it Important?

In today’s age of social media dominance and data collection on the internet, one of the biggest aspects of the online identity that most people forget exists is their digital footprint. It’s not something that everyone can just see in one place, like a catalog, but more of what shows up when someone searches your name in a web browser like Google or Bing. If you have any sort of active presence on the internet, you have established a digital footprint. Why is this so important though, especially for job seekers? In this article, we will discuss what the digital footprint is, why it’s important, and why you should look at cleaning up your digital footprint when you’re actively looking for a new job!

What is a Digital Footprint?

Your digital footprint is your online presence in terms of your communication, activities, and actions on the internet. It encompasses all references of a person including social media accounts or posts, blogs, articles, and images that exist online. This information can also include anything you’ve shared on the internet like passwords, online purchases, email addresses, demographic data, and your IP address or addresses that are associated with you. Some of this information is public and can be found by people who are searching you online, but most of it is private and is quite difficult to find.

Active vs. Passive Footprints

When it pertains to digital footprints, there are two types to understand. There are both active and passive footprints. A passive footprint is comprised of a user’s online activities and their stored information. An active footprint includes information that a user shares online including social media posts. Every aspect of our online lives is a part of our digital footprint.

Why Your Footprint Matters and How it is Used

We know that data and information is tracked via our digital footprint, but why does this information matter, especially when you’re a job seeker looking for potential employers? Your digital footprint matters because it’s a large collection of your online activity and it has been used to create a digital profile of who you are that can be found on search engines. This means that companies and human resources professionals can easily find your social media profiles, pictures you have posted, or anything associated with your name. This means your digital footprint can affect your reputation when applying for jobs.

However, sometimes having a positive online presence can benefit you. Since the business world is becoming online-based, having a positive online presence can help you be seen by more people and potential employers or customers.

Our digital identities are also used by many companies to create and push advertisements to us based on our digital reputation or things that we post on social networking sites. While it seems scary, data collection happens every time we use the internet or create online accounts.

Can I Get Rid of My Digital Footprint?

Unfortunately, there is no way to completely eliminate your digital footprint as long as you use the internet. There is, however, a process to clean up your digital reputation. This can help you avoid issues with future employers based on your social media presence or digital activities.

How to Clean Up Your Digital Footprint as a Job Seeker

As a job seeker, your online reputation is something that companies might look at during the hiring process as a way to see if you truly are who you say you are and if you would be a good fit for their company. Here are some helpful tips on how to clean up your digital footprint when you’re actively looking for employment.

  • Delete Unwanted Content –If you appear on social media profiles that are not yours or you are mentioned in blogs, articles, and websites that you are not directly affiliated with, you can reach out to the site administrators to get those profiles or mentions of your name deleted. Make sure you thoroughly comb your social media profiles for any content that may seem detrimental to your job search.
  • Update Your Privacy Settings –Most social media sites now come with privacy settings that can limit or restrict who sees your social media profiles. This also helps you maintain privacy when interacting with other people on these social media platforms, as well as reducing the amount of information you share publicly.
  • Delete Old Accounts –While it may be difficult, deleting old social media accounts, unused accounts, online profiles, or email accounts can significantly help clean up your digital footprint. The Facebook profile from your teenage years can be deleted in turn for one that creates a more accurate and positive reputation for yourself as a professional.
  • Protect Your Privacy and Security on Your Phone and Computer –Many of us use our smartphones and tablets to surf the web, shop, and browse social media. This also means our information is accessible through them and makes them an easy target for malicious attacks that could jeopardize our digital footprints. Protect your information and privacy by making sure your passwords are safe on your mobile devices and your personal computer.

How Your Digital Footprint Affects You as a Job Seeker

For job seekers, it’s important to understand that potential employers will be thoroughly looking at your overall digital footprint for a number of reason. During the hiring process, companies will run background checks that also include a deep dive into your social media accounts, any articles that you may have written or were written about you, and any other pieces of media that may come up during an online search of your name. They want to know what your digital presence looks like and compare it to who you are in person, as some people can tend to be either a bit different or very different from their online persona. According to Forbes, here are some of the reasons why companies will take a deep dive into your digital footprint and why it can affect you as a job seeker who is actively job hunting.

A Candidate’s Online Information can Determine Their Fit

A prospective employer will do everything they can to find out what they can about someone they see as a potential fit at their company. This means looking into their social media network and researching any information that is available on the internet to find out if they will indeed be a good fit for their company and their values. This allows for companies to eliminate potentially problematic candidates who have posted controversial things online. Corporations want to avoid problems as much as possible and as extensions of their company, their employees also must watch what they post on social media, since it can come back on the company. Companies and organizations will always do their due diligence when it comes to the internet footprints of potential employees.

A Strong Online Presence Gives Companies A View Into The Candidate as A Person

Having a strong digital footprint can be a great thing for job seekers. According to a poll of human resources professionals, more than one-third of employers say that they are less likely to interview a candidate if they are unable to find any information about the person online. More than half of these professionals said that they use social networking sites to research candidates. Companies are also searching to find out what other people are saying about candidates. Is this person who they say that they are? Are they well-liked by their peers? Are they active in their community? Companies are utilizing your digital footprint throughout the application process as they look into who you are as a candidate and as a person.

Online Presence Speaks to What Is Important to A Candidate

Published articles, blogs, and social media posts help employers determine what is important to a job candidate. These things help paint a broader picture of who the candidate is outside of a professional setting and how they want the world to see themselves. Interviews are a great way to get to know a potential employee, but they don’t offer enough time to get to know them as a person. This is why the digital footprint for a job seeker is so important to have, as companies will often be able to look at your information and learn all the information they need. This can help speed up the interview and hiring process, as they will be able to rid themselves of bias and make a more informed and educated hiring decision.

Scion Creative Helps Creative Job Seekers Find Their Dream Roles

If you’re an active job seeker with a great digital footprint, Scion Creative is a creative staffing firm that can help you find excellent creative roles in a variety of different verticals within the creative sector. Our team of tenured creative recruiters have helped candidates land graphic design positions, film and television roles, and many others! If you’re an active job seeker and you’re curious about what Scion Creative can offer you, visit our website today to learn more or contact us to find out what our recruitment and staffing professionals can do for you!