We’re often asked by candidates whether employers really look at their ‘digital footprint’. The short answer is YES. They sure do.

We can’t emphasise enough how important it is to look at how you present yourself online (your ‘online brand’). Did we say we can’t emphasise this enough?

Figures vary but some say that more than 90% of employers will search for your social media profiles before deciding to interview you. And you can bet recruitment companies will too.

Let’s face it, how you look and act online says buckets loads about how you could potentially operate in a workplace. It can sway an employer toward you or turn them against you—without you even knowing it.

What is a digital footprint?

For recruitment purposes, your digital footprint is any data, information, comments, pictures and videos referencing you that can be found online. This is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and any another other platform.

While social media is a great way to stay connected to friends and family, be careful that your settings don’t allow anyone to see everything about you (if that’s not what you want).

What do employers look for online?

  • The sort of person you might be—a glimpse of your character and personality.
  • Whether you’re social and outgoing in an appropriate way.
  • Whether you could be a cultural fit to their organisation.
  • If you’re authentic or fake.
  • If content you post paints a picture of you as intelligent and friendly, or nasty and argumentative.
  • Whether the information you post about yourself (especially on LinkedIn) matches up with what you’ve set out in your resume.
  • Whether you network and/or contribute to your community or are always just out for a paaarrrtttyyy, drinking and doing drugs (this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a glass of wine but if you’re at a bar with a line-up of shots or passed out on the floor that’s another thing).
  • If you can write well.
  • If you use profanity.
  • Whether you post inappropriate content, such as racist or sexist comments.

Where to start assessing your digital footprint

  1. Search for yourself on the Internet by typing your name into several search engines. Then have a look at what comes up. Do you think a prospective employer would like what’s online when they do the same?
  2. Ask yourself if there’s anything on your social media platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, that could harm your chances of getting a job OR enhance your chances.
  3. Decide if you need to do some housekeeping. If you decide too, search ‘how to clean up digital footprint’. Do some research and then get cleaning.
  4. Decide if you want to be strategic and add content to your social media platforms that shows you in a good light to prospective employers. For example, photos of you doing community work.

How to improve your online brand

  1. Look at your profile photos and ask if it makes you look confident and an all-round nice person. It doesn’t have to be a corporate photo but if you’re taking a risqué selfie of yourself or downing a drink and look worse for wear—and this is a common thread with your online brand—chances are the employer will think twice about interviewing you.
  2. Think about the type of photos you post, and the content you post, and aim for balance. If you work in the community, reflect that in your social media. If you’re athletic and are participating in a fundraising sports event, post about that. If you’re an animal lover and out walking the dog along the lake, that’s great too. Hobbies can also be good content.
  3. Ask your recruiter or a person you trust to look at the content on your social media to test if it’s lacking in any way. This is especially important for LinkedIn (research online how to optimise your LinkedIn profile).

Do employers have the right to look at your social media?

Many say yes because you’ve chosen to post this material for the world to see. Many say no believing it’s an invasion of privacy. The reality is that it happens, so get ready.

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Read other expert career articles by face2face Recruitment.