The Digital Cleanse

What is the first thing you do when you are looking for a job?.. You go online and Google jobs that interest you; you Google companies that you want to work for.  Most people stopped looking in the newspaper classifies a long time ago.  Employers have also changed their hiring methods.  Sure you still have to submit your CV, but your resume is not the only thing future employers are looking at. Now your digital footprint is almost as important as what you put on your CV.

I had a friend from college that was a brilliant computer programmer.  He had his masters in Computer Science, and he had experience programming for multiple companies.  He thought he was set to get any job that he wanted.  His hobby though was his blog, which was a pretty distasteful collection of provocative pictures and clips, ramblings about conspiracy theories, and disturbing stories.  One day he decided to post a link to his blog on his Myspace page (this was when MySpace was big).  Months later when he was interviewing for his dream job in Hawaii, this post ruined his chances of getting it.  I can’t even imagine the embarrassment he felt when they brought up his blog in the live interview.

His experience made me realize how important it is to have a positive digital footprint.  You better Google yourself before considering to apply for your next big job and make sure that your image online fits the one you represented on your CV.  Here are some articles that might help you clean up your digital footprint, if it needs cleaning up…

How to Stop Employers Digging your Digital Dirt – I like idea #10 in this article

Google Alerts is a very handy tool for real time alerts about anything, in this case yourself. Punch in your name in inverted commas, set it to send you updates as soon as you are mentioned online. This way you will be able to monitor yours whenever your name is mentioned anywhere on an ongoing basis.”

Cleaning Up Your Digital Dirt  –Eve Tahmincioglu says “What happens on the Internet tends to stay on the Internet.” and it is true.  She mentions an interview with C. David Gammel, a corporate technology consultant and writes that he suggests “burying the Internet skeletons in positive cyber dust.”

“Gammel believes in burying the Internet skeletons in positive cyber dust. “Once the less savory items are pushed off your first page of ego search results on Google, you’ll be fine with most people,” he notes. “That’s why you have to post more, not less, to get rid of the impact of those skeletons.”

I really like this idea, because it encourages you to have a bigger digital footprint instead of erasing every trace you have on the Internet.  Employers are looking to hire people with positive digital footprints.  Not having a digital footprint is almost as bad as having a shameful one.  Having no online  identity tells future employers that you probably don’t have very good computer skills.  It means that you don’t use social media, you don’t blog about things that are important to you, and that you probably don’t keep up with the times.  The Internet is a free promotion tool for yourself.  Why not advertise yourself in a positive light and get that dream job.  Why not share your expertise through a blog, making your ideas and your knowledge more accessible to the world.

As an international educator, with competition for jobs being fierce, having a positive, and sizable digital presence is a good idea, and it absolutely can’t hurt.  I certainly need to work on mine between midnight feedings and tummy time – COETAIL is helping 🙂

Trying out

Photo Credit: pixelsrzen via Compfight cc

5 Replies to “The Digital Cleanse”

  1. Hi Laura,

    I like how you mention specific actions your readers can take.

    I set up google alerts a few months ago and have had about three alerts from it. It’s possible that I don’t have the settings correct, but it doesn’t seem super helpful to me yet. Of course, my name is somewhat common, so I’m not sure I really want to be notified every time someone posts something about Robin Montgomery.

    I’ll be curious to hear from classmates if they try google alerts to hear how it works.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this blog post. It has given me a much better perspective on the importance of my digital foot print. I found it strange that not having a digital footprint can be considered being so bad. I wonder if there is a correlation between the number of blog post I make and if I’m keeping up with the times. For example, I think of my parents, who typically just use the internet for the occasional email and basic search. Yet, they watch the news every night and are very aware of local events and politics. Would they be considered out of touch? I guess it also depends on the type of job one is applying for too.

    Do you get many google alerts about people that aren’t you? I noticed that my search only shows another person with my name and I’m not interested in following how many times he is mentioned online.

    1. Thanks for commenting Ryan. I guess what I was trying to convey in my post, is that a strong digital footprint (lots of positive online evidence that you are online and reading and commenting and creating) is what employers are now looking for. I just set up alerts, I’ll let you know how it goes.

  3. I always love reading your posts, especially the useful links you provide! I am going to have to set up Google alerts, because I curious to see how well it works. I can see that having a strong online presence is important. Having a distasteful blog is probably a bad idea for anyone who ever wants to search for a job at any point in the future, but I also struggle with the line between my personal life/online presence and my professional one. I don’t like future employers Googling my name and finding personal photos— even if they are perfectly appropriate ones, so I try to keep my privacy settings on personal information set so the public can’t see them. I also know that often doesn’t work, and that websites like Facebook change their settings often enough that what works today might not work tomorrow anyhow. I do like having a personal online presence though. I feel that it is important to have that, especially when living far away from many close friends and family. I find it really hard to achieve a balance between having a personal presence online, and worrying about what will eventually be seen by whom and how it could be interpreted or misinterpreted.

    1. I like having a personal online presence too, anyone can see that from my facebook activity. I make sure what I post represents me in a good light though and my privacy settings are set for my family and friends. I think having a proffesional and personal digital footprint shows that you are a real person to future employers. Just like making a first impression, what you post online gives a taste of who you are to people. What I need to get better at is posting more proffesionally than personally.

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