How to prevent your digital footprint from losing you an interview


It’s no secret that more and more companies are starting to jump on the social media bandwagon, but it’s not just marketing departments that are utilizing social media to their best advantage; human resources departments are taking advantage of them too, and they’re searching you.

Your Facebook and Twitter profiles might not even be on your radar as you’re searching for that job in sales or finance, but they should be.

As unimportant as you might think your online profiles are, they could get your resumé put in the recycling bin before it even gets read.

Companies don’t just hire for the best credentials; they also look to hire those with personalities that fit into their corporate culture. Social media have made finding the right personalities a whole lot easier. Although social media can give you a great opportunity to show potential employers more than what is on your resumé, it can also work against you if you don’t control your online presence.

Here are a few things you can do to control your digital footprint and prevent it from losing you that interview.

Search yourself

Type your name into Google, Bing, Yahoo and other popular search engines to see what comes up. Check both web content and images to check for any discriminating photos or potentially hazardous material linked to your name. This will give you a good starting point to know if and where employers are seeing anything that is less than a positive reflection of you.

Secure your Facebook account

Unless you never go out, have no friends or refuse to have your photo taken, it’s probably a good idea to set your Facebook security settings to private, or at least disable the ability for content to be added to your account without your approval.

Although we like to think we can trust the hundreds of friends we have on Facebook, we each have differing perspectives on what is acceptable to post. Your best friend probably had good intentions when he posted that note to your wall laughing about Friday night’s shenanigans, or the photos that captured it all, but you probably don’t want the HR manager of the job to which you just applied find them.

Watch what you tweet

Twitter content often baffles me – especially late at night when the trending topics turn into Twitter’s version of a red light district. Unless you lock your account or use a fake name (both of which defeat the purpose of Twitter), conversations are public for anyone to read and it’s a good idea to ensure you don’t get lost in the depths of the Twitter underworld.

It’s easy to rant and rave in the heat of the moment, but think before you tweet and only post things you wish to be associated with. It’s OK to let your personality show on Twitter, and it’s OK to be controversial. Demonstrating how you ignite, converse and react can help future employers determine whether or not you are a good match for their company, but it could also be detrimental to your job search.

Leave your less-than-flattering performances off YouTube

Unless you’re auditioning for a starring role in ‘How Not To Get Hired,’ you might want to rethink posting that video of you dancing on the bar or getting arrested for drunken misconduct. A video on YouTube has the ability to gain a lot of traffic and get even the most common names ranked highly on search engines. With enough hits or the right keyword searches, hiring managers will be able to view your best (and worst) performances.

Your online brand is your public self and should reflect how you wish to be perceived. With millions of online users, it’s easy to gain a large audience and get carried away with a quasi-celebrity status. If, however, you’re trying to impress a future employer, it’s probably best to take down those out of control celebrity moments you’ve got plastered all over the web.

About the author

Sophie Bifield is a social media consultant who has spent close to 5000 hours professionally (and a whole lot more personally) creating online communities. Aside from being addicted to everything social media and being able to speak fluent web slang, she is also a graduate of Queen's University's psychology program. When not immersed in cyber space, @sophiebifield spends her spare time fundraising and training to run a marathon for diabetes. Check out her blog here.