bad social

Five ways your digital footprint can kill your job hunt

You’ve heard of footprints, right? They’re often messy, easily identifiable and simple to track. Now take that thinking and put it into the online world. Everything you do online — from a Facebook update to an Instagram post to a throwaway tweet — forms part of your digital footprint. And just like real ones, they can be messy, easily identifiable and very, very simple to track — something HR people have become very good at.

When you’re in the hunt for your first corporate gig or have actually landed one and are about to start, there are a few things you need to be mindful of when it comes to your digital footprint. 


Leaving your page open for the world to see

It might seem like it goes against the principles of having a social media account, but leaving your various social media profiles open to the public can you leave you vulnerable, particularly when looking for work. Restricting your privacy settings ensures — for the most part — that your personal information is viewable to a select few, and limits potential employers from digging for things that could hurt your job search.


Keep private conversations private

Sites like Facebook make it easy to have personal conversations with your friends and family by simply by posting something on their Timeline. But think of it this way, would you share your most private thoughts with your entire class? Probably not. Posting them on a profile is pretty much the same thing and is there for everyone to see. And remember, their privacy settings may not be as strict as yours so you can’t control what is visible and what isn’t. The potential embarrassment for you or those you care about if private conversations go public is one thing, but the fallout if a current or potential employer sees them could be far worse. 


No pictures please

While posting selfies and Instagramming our food or fashion choices using oldschool filters is fun, just be mindful of the type of image you’re putting up online. Once it’s on the web, it’s there to stay. There are hundreds of cases of people being fired from their jobs, suspended or expelled from school or even arrested as a result of images they’ve posted or others have posted of them online. A picture tells a thousand words, so every pic you post is representative of who you are, whether you want it to be or not.


Complaining about your job or boss

Regardless of the work you do, you’re going to have a bad day. And when you have a bad day, you’re probably going to want to tell someone. With social media our ever-present sounding board, the temptation to have a meltdown and post a rant complaining about a boss, a job or a customer for all to see can be all too appealing. Even if your privacy settings are locked down tight, a colleague could spread the word, meaning there’s a chance your boss could find out. Worse still, there’s always the risk a future potential employer might see it and decide that you're not worth hiring since you've badmouthed your employers in the past.


Guilt by association

We all have friends that find ways to cross over the line of good taste. And sure, sometimes it’s fun to look through and comment on the stupid things they post online. The thing is a prospective employer may not share that same idea. While we may not like it, we’re being judged all the time and often it’s not because of things we’ve done or said, but because of our connections. Believe it or not, a crazy friend posting inappropriate status updates and photos has the potential to kill your chances for landing a plum job. While you’re hunting for a job, talk to your friend about who is reading your profile and/or change your settings to restrict who can post/tag what. The last thing you want is your chance of the perfect job ruined because of an inappropriate pic or update.

Social media should be fun and if you exercise a little caution, the chances of ruining your job hunting prospects will be slim.