A broad digital skill set has become a must-have for most employers.
According to our research into the future of work, and part of proving you have a strong digital skill set is ensuring you know how to manage your online presence. It only takes a few seconds to see what falls under your name with a quick search, and if it’s not safe for work it’s probably not safe for your boss to see.
We’re all for freedom of expression on the internet, heck it’s where some of the greatest and most radical ideas have flourished, but it pays to take care of the content you share. What may seem funny or harmless to you, could appear wildly inappropriate to someone who sees it out of context and outside your social circle. If that’s something you’re keen to do, here’s how to make a start on your content clean up.
1: Google yourself. And don’t assume your future employer won’t Google you
Take a look at what kind of digital dirt might be attached to your name before your future boss does. You might think you’re in the clear, but chances are there’s an account your 12-year-old self created on a defunct platform with a profile picture taken on your webcam using one of the “cool” effects. For all the right reasons, we tend to forget those things ever existed.
And don’t think of future employers Googling you as a bad thing. If you’re applying for a job in media, communications, marketing or anything digital, just about every company is going to want to see how you present yourself online — are you a video maker with a great sense of humour, or a Twitter fiend with a sharp take on current events? Stuff like this makes you incredibly employable — hats off to you for navigating the world wide web and making something wonderful! Cast an eye over your content from the point of view of a prospective employer and decide if it’s sending the message you want to send.
2: Start purging
If you’ve still got your login details, it’s time to start sifting through any old accounts. Delete (or hide) those grumpy statuses, the Photoshopped selfies, and anything that seems discriminatory, aggressive or overly revealing. Use your own moral compass to guide you, and try to put yourself in an employer’s digital shoes while you’re browsing. It’s probably time to ditch your high school email address too. You can create a new account quickly and for no cost, and it’ll make you a tad more identifiable than theburgersarebetter-at-hotmail-dot-com. We’re not saying you can’t have your own voice or online presence — just brush up on your privacy settings and be comfortable who you’re sharing what with.
3: Highlight your best bits
Think of the internet as like a really extensive portfolio of who you are and what you engage with online. Now that you’ve purged, your pages might be looking a little sparse — fill gaps with some good stuff! Pin beautiful travel photos to the top of your profile, or write a stellar blog post to share with your friends if that’s your vibe. It’s worth taking an afternoon to make sure your qualifications on LinkedIn are up to date and your profile picture is looking slick. Depending on your industry, you could think of these accounts as extensions of your application, pay as much attention to them as you would a resume.
4: Update your privacy settings
If there’s some uploads that you don’t want to cut, you can always update your profile settings instead. All major social platforms — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn etc. — allow you to tweak what the public can see without requesting your permission or adding you as a friend. Have a fiddle and decide how much of your private life you’d like to keep private.
5: Don’t assume people aren’t allowed to look at what you do online
Chances are, you clicked a big YES at the end of a long list of terms and conditions when you signed up to a new website. Once you’ve opted in, most platforms partly own what you share when you start uploading or typing. By choosing to create an online persona, you are (mostly) agreeing to make that digital profile available to more than just your network of “friends”. To brush up on how your personal info is handled online in a little more depth, check out our piece on taking care of your privacy online.
6: Stop yourself from erasing what makes you unique
Employers also want to see who you are online to get a sense of what you can bring to the team in terms of cultural fit. Avoid the temptation to just wipe everything in case it taints what one employer might be looking for, because you could end up deleting a brilliant quirk that was going to bring your resume to the top of the pile.