What is a digital footprint exactly?

Digital footprints today are the modern version of everyone’s resume. They show people who you are just by the things you like, the stuff you post, and everything in-between. The bad part is that your “online resume” is always available to look at by everyone. Whether its perfect or not so perfect and its always in a constant state of change,with our ever changing life styles. Because of this it makes it that much more important to actually care about what your “online self” looks like. Employers have started looking at your online presence to help them make hiring decisions. Back in July of 2011, which is quite a few years back, an article was posted about research that was done in regards to how peoples digital footprint was affecting their hiring status.

“Over the past few years, several studies have been conducted looking at social media and employer hiring habits.  One of those studies, conducted by Microsoft, showed that 70% of employers in the United States screened out potential employees because of information found online.  The study also showed that the majority of recruiters and HR professionals indicated that they think it’s appropriate to consider personal information found online in screening potential job applicants.” – Is your digital footprint squashing your reputation?

I guess though, before talking about how our digital footprint can affect the hiring process,  I should first talk about some of the ways that our digital footprint gets started so that you can see what your going to have manage.

According to Educator’s Technology, “Managing one’s digital identity is a skill, so to speak, that we need to learn and teach our kids and students about. In a world digitally focused, the boundaries between the real and virtual are blurred.” How important are students digital footprints?

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, just to name a few, are places that add to your digital footprint. In today’s world, almost everyone has a Facebook account. Even if they don’t use it regularly, it still contributes to their online footprint. Posts, photos, comments, links that were liked, website accounts that were created. These all usually require some sort of personal information to sign up which in turn, expands your online presence.

Retailers and product review sites often leave cookies on your system which can track your movement from site-to-site, allowing targeted advertisements that can show you products you’ve been recently reading about or looking at online. Ways we leave digital footprints

Facebook already does this by the games you play and the articles that get posted by other people on you news feed. Once you like a article, Facebooks smart software sees it and starts to send you more articles that relate to the article you liked. This became very apparent during this year’s election which had more online presence than than any other election before it. In a Business Insider article that Cadie Thompson wrote in September of 2015, she mentioned Kosinski, a student at the University of Cambridge, who created a tool  that ““translates individuals’ digital footprints into detailed psychological profiles” and can help you see how others perceive you online, according to its website.” The software is called “Apply Magic Sauce” and its worth a try to see what it pulls from your profile. While its definitely not perfect, (trust me, its attempt at me was not terrible but certainly wasn’t spot on in most places) It was interesting to see what things it looked at to help it determine some of the answers that it gave. I am positive that an actual human could do a much better job at determining what gender you were, what political side you were on, or what some of your interests were. Which is why maintaining our digital footprint is so important.

If you are looking for a job, you need to be aware of your digital footprint – the information connected with your name online. Companies and recruiters routinely check search engine results to learn more about potential employees. In fact, 90% of executive recruiters say they conduct online research of potential candidates, according to ExecuNet. Up to 70% of employers who have used LinkedIn say they’ve chosen not to hire a person based on what they’ve found out about them online. However, only 27% of employers give job seekers the opportunity to discuss the online content that is associated with their name, such as social media profiles, blog posts and photos. – Chris Forman, CEO of the online job-search organizer StartWire

The above Forbe’s quote helps us to see why our digital footprint matters. Ok, so employers say they use Google to help them determine who to hire, but how much does it actually effect their decision?

Employers can use social media in two ways when hiring: to recruit candidates by publicizing job openings and to conduct background checks to confirm a candidate’s qualifications for a position.The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) surveyed its members in 2008, 2011 and 2013 on the use of social media for employee recruitment and selection. Its 2013 study revealed that 77 percent of respondent companies use social networking sites to recruit candidates for specific jobs, up from 56 percent in 2011 and 34 percent in 2008.Smart employers want to cast as broad a net as possible to reach as many potential candidates as they can, and they are increasingly harnessing social media as part of their recruitment strategy. But it should be only a part of the strategy.

Ok, so maybe it matters a little. I think the main thing to pull away from this is that no matter what, we always need to be mindful of what we are posting on social media.


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