How your digital footprint can lead you towards or away from career success

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In this guest article Sumit Ray, Digital Marketing Manager, www.merajob.in, talks about the importance of creating the right digital footprint for career success. Read on to know more about how your next employer is looking for you on social media and how you can proactively prepare for it.

There was a time when all that an interviewer knew about you was what was in your resume. Nothing apart from your education and past work experience was discussed. This gradually shifted with the addition of hobbies and demographic details (which you should not be including in your resume anyway). From their end the employer would ask for references to call and ask about you, which was also an imperfect solution.

But now, unknowingly, we have handed over our entire life story to the world with our social media presence. Social networking, the reason many of us now compulsively share every moment of our lives online, has become the most transparent way for anyone to research us.

Don’t be alarmed. Knowing that people’s eyes are on you online, you can also create a positive image online that beats any other self-representation you can make for a future employer. Ask yourself, “What do I want my boss to think about me?” and then follow through from that.

For instance, if you thought “I want them to think of me as a subject matter expert in my field” you have to post at least 2-3 relevant articles every week on LinkedIn, or even better, write an article every fortnight. This way you will want your employer to look at your profile. Similarly you can impress with your Twitter circle. If you can get 2000+ followers you even have the chance to get invited to some industry events, and that will immediately put you in the spotlight. So, are we prepared to show our best side online? Or, must we always be secretive now about what we share online?

digital-footprint-and-career-successYou should only worry if you have something to hide

If you are worried about what your next employer might find on your Facebook page then that should make you stop and think. Either you have posted or shared some objectionable content and you know it, or, you think your next employer holds very different opinions from yours.

If it is the first, then you should think more about your own tastes and prejudices which can land you in trouble. The modern world appreciates a modern mind, which means you cannot behave in an outdated, small-minded manner. For example, you cannot insult your current job online and then be upset if a future employer sees that and rejects you.

The second reason is more of an indication of things to come. It could very well be that your prospective employer is the outdated thinker, in which case if they evaluate you on the basis of your opinions then you may be better off working for someone else.

Put your best foot forward

All social media is public, so behave like you would in public. Occasional outbursts are fine, but are you colouring yourself too negatively? Just be friendly, interesting, and helpful and everyone will respect you. You don’t have to hide pictures of you drinking with your friends, that’s an honest and good picture of you. But, don’t put drunken messages on your wall or feed, that’s poor judgement.

If you have genuine interest in your line of work you should share that on channels like LinkedIn. For example, if you really enjoy studying machine learning you should share good articles on it. It not only shows that you are alert and aware about your field, but it also helps you nurture a network of like-minded people which might help you in the future. This way social media can pay you back for your participation.

Be savvy about privacy settings

The cyber world is a fun and exciting place filled with your friends and loved ones. But, like the real world it is also shady in parts and it is dangerous to reveal your entire private lives online. For the sake of your private and professional lives it is highly recommended that you become familiar with all the privacy settings various social media channels now offer.

Learn how to restrict who can see your posts and also how to deal with online bullying or trolling in a mature manner. You should not allow external factors to create a poor image of you online.

Learn about restricted posts, permissions for allowing people to post on your wall, editing/deleting comments, blocking and unfollowing people, reporting as spam, etc. By knowing your privacy and security options you can ensure your online presence is not adversely polluted.

Avoid the Obvious

There are some mistakes that are just inexcusable. So make sure you never do any of the following.

Facebook: Don’t post crude or gender offensive content. On Facebook we tend to be most unguarded, treating it like a friends circle. As a result, among friends, we say many things that are never meant for outsiders, but they can see it anyway. Maintain a friendly atmosphere, don’t participate in anything divisive or toxic.

LinkedIn: This is the most professional network, but still many people bring their Facebook mindset here. Don’t share personal moments on LinkedIn, or jokes, or puzzles. Instead use it to share work updates, news, and industry-relevant articles.

Twitter: Twitter is where you should cultivate 1-2 deep interests and stick to those. You will get the best results if you stick to these topics and avoid tweeting about too many other topics. Be focused. Twitter is also the most public medium, i.e people don’t need a friend request/invitation to see what you post. So only share what you can stand by.

As social media matures day by day, so should its users.

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