When you last shared a post or story on Instagram, did you consider how it might be perceived by a potential employer? If you didn’t, you might want to start in the near future. According to research done by The Manifest in April 2020, 90% of employers now factor in a candidate’s social media accounts when considering them for a job. A whopping 79% of surveyed employers said they have rejected candidates based on their social media content.
With this in mind, it’s time you evaluate your online presence. Before applying for that promotion or job with a new employer, audit your social media and digital footprint to ensure your online brand is on par with your personal and professional brand.
How to Audit Your Online Presence
Before making any changes, you need to know what information about you is publicly available online. This starts with an online search of yourself on as many search engines as possible. But be sure to use an incognito browser to prevent your cookies from affecting the results. You want to know what a stranger would find rather than what Google thinks is most relevant based on your recent activity online.
Check at least the first five pages of search results and look at the news, videos, ad images tabs.
As you complete this audit, note your social media sites and any other web pages containing information about you that pop up in your search, and each time you see something about yourself, be it an image or webpage such as a Facebook, click into it to see where that link leads. Ask yourself what information it shows about you, and then note any changes that need to be made such as images to be taken down or account settings needing to be changed.
Start with a straight forward search for your name and then vary the searches to include key details about you. For example, search your name and city, then your name and employer, then your name and past job, and so on. Consider also any names you may have been known under like a nickname or a maiden name. When the name searches are done, also do a search for your email address (and any used in the past) and your cell number.
Don’t Forget Social Media
Next, audit the content on your social media accounts. Take a scroll through your images and take down any that could cause offense or could be misconstrued. Likewise with your posts, comments, and likes. Is there anything that could be taken out of context or misunderstood?
Una Carter, a branding writer at Draft Beyond and Last Minute Writing, says that social media blurs the line between professional and private lives. “Social media essentially exists for fun and connections but its public openness means that employers can peek into our homes and friendships, too,” says Carter. “Privacy settings will protect you, but sensible content will serve you better.”
Look also at your profile images, bio, and personal information. These basic sections should reflect what you want your employer to know about you and not just your witty online persona. You might consider taking down accounts all together if you are no longer active on them.
When it comes to your personal online brand, start thinking about if what you post and share on your social media channels is consistent with the brand you are building. It could be argued that social media is more about your social and non-work-related activities and opinions, but keep in mind that a strong personal brand works across all areas of your life.