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Improve your digital footprint

Improve your digital footprint
Thanks to social media we’re better connected than ever before. Information spreads instantly, and we have more videos of cats than you can shake your laser pointer at. We use it to share just about every aspect of our lives, which can be useful. But remember that all those posts, tweets, photos, and videos end up scattered all over the internet and can usually be traced back to you. This is sometimes called your digital footprint, and how it represents you can have an effect on your employability. It’s becoming more common for employers to use social media to screen applicants. Many of these will reject you if you give a bad impression.
But they are just as likely to hire you if they see something they like. So don’t let your digital footprint stamp out your chance of a job. Follow these five steps, and you’ll be on your way to social media success. Step one, LinkedIn is incredibly useful. Set up a professional profile, build a network of connections, join groups for insider knowledge, and when you’re ready, you can even use it to search for jobs. And while you’re at it, why not check out the countless other social networks out there? There may even be one specially for your chosen industry. Two, keep an eye on your security settings. Social networks, especially Facebook, change their privacy and security settings regularly.
So make sure you’re not about to share those photos from last night’s pub crawl with your future boss. Always remember that just because you made your post private doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Social media is about sharing, and before you know it, your comments could end up visible to anyone. Think before you post. Try searching for yourself online once in a while to make sure nothing inappropriate shows up. At the same time, make sure there’s something for employers to see. Achievements and relevant interests can look good to employers, so don’t be afraid to show off. Make a few public posts now and then, and show employers why you’re the right candidate for them.
Three, make sure you’re involved in the conversation. If you’ve got your heart set on a particular industry, you need to be liking, sharing, following, commenting, and retweeting those who are already working in it. This will show that you’re interested, help keep you up to date, build connections with people, and even open up opportunities. Four, make yourself easy to find. As well as having public content on social networks, why not start a blog and write about a subject you’re passionate about? Show off how much you’ve learned through your studies. Write about achievements and popular topics. It’s a great way to build your web presence. And five, social media changes all the time.
So try to keep up to date with what’s going on. You’ll find plenty of updates on news websites and technology blogs. So what are you waiting for? Get yourself online, and get networking.
Social media offers great opportunities to develop your employability and many employers are now using it to find new recruits. Social media could play an important role in helping you find a job, therefore it’s essential you know how to use it to your advantage.
In addition to having a more traditional CV, you can also develop a professional profile online, which demonstrates your skills and experiences to potential recruiters. LinkedIn™, dubbed ‘Facebook for professionals’, is one of the more common ways to do this, but there are lots of others such as Twitter, Blogging, Google+ or Facebook. If you wish to develop a creative portfolio of your work, you could consider platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram or Behance. Some countries like China offer popular alternatives such as Sina Weibo (the equivalent to Twitter) or Renren (similar to Facebook).
At the end of last week we suggested that you type your name into Google to see what comes up. What did you find? Was there anything there that surprised or worried you? What kind of impression do you think your current online presence would give to a potential employer or University admissions tutor?

Here are some things to consider:

  • Is your online profile accurate and up-to-date?
  • What are your privacy settings?
  • What do you ‘like’ and who do you follow on social media? What groups are you a member of? What does this say about you?
  • What photographs exist of you online? What’s your profile picture like? What impression might others form of you?
  • What interests have you highlighted? What impression does this give?
  • What comments or opinions do you share via social media?
  • What do you and your friends say about each other?
  • What skills, competencies and experiences do you share online? Do you ‘showcase’ your talents?
  • Who are you connected to professionally via social media? (e.g. employers, professional groups, individuals who work in the sort of job that interests you, job agencies, career experts, etc.)
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