January 18, 2019

It is now common knowledge that aspiring professionals should be careful what they post online. The rising importance of an individual's online identity has even cost people jobs or put potential employment in jeopardy. Regardless of whether you already graduated or are anticipating that step, understanding your digital footprint is vital to finding and maintaining a career.

digital footprintAccording to techterms.com, a digital footprint described as “a trail of data people create while using the internet.” It is broken down into active and passive. An active digital footprint is the overt way in which they leave their mark on the Web. It comprises all posts, pictures and information that individuals placed online and on social media. A passive digital footprint is slightly less obvious. It's the background information collected by websites, apps and other internet sources. Often the user is not aware. This footprint includes search history, tracking cookies and websites that save users' IP addresses/locations.

Why is it Important?
The type of digital footprint--passive or active--can affect an individual’s life in different ways. An active digital footprint might be seen when a person is applying for a job. As reported by Career Builder, upward of 70 percent of employers check social media when making hiring decisions. A person's digital footprint could even cost them tperson at laptopheir current job. Look at the stories of actress Roseanne Barr and filmmaker James Gunn for examples. And there are countless cases of everyday people being fired for online opinions and shared pictures.

Passive digital footprints are just as important but can have significantly different effects and consequences. Internet Society explains that companies collect information abput the things individuals buy and sites they visit, and they share that information with other companies. In some instances this might inform those sites to present more relevant information and products to you. In others, it might cause those companies to make adverse decisions regarding you. Internet Society gave the example of a man who returned from his honeymoon to find his credit limit lowered. The decision was based on the payment habits of other people who shop where he shopped.

Checking and Managing
If you are active on the internet, it is absolutely impossible to not have a digital footprint; however, there are a few easy ways provided by Norton Antivirus and Teachthought to check and maintain your digital footprint so that you can show your best internet face.

Search your name
You should search your name in multiple search engines to find how you might appear on websites. If you find unflattering information, you can contact the websites to have it taken down. Do this after signing out of all of your accounts to see what shows up for someone else.

social media deletion graphicPrivacy settings
Check your social media privacy setting; if anything is set to public, anyone can see it. If you increase your privacy, you should still monitor your posts. Simply changing your name in your social media accounts will not be enough because your URL will not change.

Post monitoring
If you are posting on social media, think about whether or not there would be consequences if someone saw what you wrote. If there might be, don’t post it.

Delete mobile apps
There are many mobile apps and games that request to have access to different personal information, some make it mandatory. If you have apps that you don’t use anymore, think about deleting them to cut back on your permissions.

Build your reputation
Create positive or career-oriented posts on social media, and set these to public. This shows a good image to people who might be researching your information. If you have things from your past that you would rather not have on your social media, delete them. Though the internet “never forgets,”Leadership in Action logo making it more difficult to remember might be all you need to do.

Continue this conversation with Leadership in Action on Friday, Feb.1, for the "Personal Branding on Social Media" Tweet & Eat. Earn 1 LiA point for participating and adding #pspleadership to your tweets. Registration is open.

“Always be nice to the receptionist or anyone else you meet on your way to an interview, you never know what their influence is.” - Hillary Nicoll, Alpha Theta ’10, NYMAAC

Do you have advice for your fellow graduating cohort or future graduating seniors? Do you have photos of your graduation regalia? Send them to Christopher Kostelnik, Alumni Relations Coordinator, at ckostelnik@phisigmapi.org, and they might be featured in a future blog post!