Cleaning Your Digital Footprint Prior to Job Searching

Oz Tollman Goodman
7
min read

Digital technology has invaded every nook and corner of our lives. It is impossible to interact in the digital world without leaving a trace in cyberspace. If you want to have a fair shot at finding a new job you should make sure your online persona is hireable.

Cleaning Your Digital Footprint Before Job Searching

Employers these days often run a background check on their potential employees in terms of their online presence. They will scan the job applicants’ digital identities even before scheduling an interview. Unless you want them to have the first negative impression of you based on your social media profiles, it is worth taking time to clean your digital footprint before applying to jobs.

Not sure what is a digital footprint? The short definition is <hl>"a unique trail of data you leave behind while using the Internet, which can be traced back to you."<hl> Some examples of digital footprints are your browsing history, search history,  social platforms activities, text messages, tagged photos, and more.

If you think that your online presence hurts your chances of landing the job, you have every right to take it down. With growing concerns over privacy all over the world, several countries are pushing for privacy laws that give you greater control over your personal data on the internet. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) offer individuals the right to be forgotten (also known as the right to erasure) where they can request the erasure of personal data. 

Social media and dating apps 

Social media has changed the way we interact with each other. In fact, your social media presence tells a lot about you. You might have a stunning Facebook or Instagram profile with tons of late-night party pictures and countless likes and comments. There is nothing wrong with what you do in your personal life. But do not let it ruin your career prospect.  

  • Minimum Digital Presence - Keep your digital presence to a minimum. If you have several social media accounts, delete the ones that you no longer use. This also saves you from the risks of being hacked. Think from the employers’ perspective before you post any pictures or comments. The rule of thumb is to get rid of all embarrassing pictures and offensive posts from your social media profile.
  • Manage Your Privacy Settings - Take charge of your social media by controlling what others can see on your profile. Unless you want to be like an open book, you should set your personal accounts to private. Almost all social media allows their users to manage their privacy settings. Try using the “View As” feature on Facebook to see yourself from the employers’ eyes. You can also limit the visibility of your previous feeds.
  • Beware of Dating Apps - We can’t help but sign up for dating apps like Tinder to try our luck. You might be tempted to give too much of your personal information. Always proceed with caution and assume that anyone is able to see whatever you are sharing! 
  • Update your LinkedIn Profile - You are relatively safe with LinkedIn, but it is always a good idea to keep it updated with accurate and professional information about you. 

<hl>It is impossible to vanish from the digital world.<hl> The idea is to clean your digital footprint and create a positive online impression on the recruiter with limited but professional information on your social media.

Search Google and remove negative information about you

Google knows everything. You don’t have to be a celebrity to come up in the Google search. If you have tried searching for your own name in Google, you will be surprised at the chunks of information scattered over the web.

If the search results contain negative information about you that is likely to backfire in your career, you can ask Google to remove it. For this, you have to submit a Personal Information Removal Request Form, where you will have to justify the removal. However, removing it from the search results is not the same as removing it from the internet. You will still appear on the original web pages until you personally reach out to the site owners. You can read more about removing your personal information from the internet on the Mine blog. 

Reapplying to jobs and keeping your employee information private

The hiring process has evolved significantly over the past decade. The screening process is automated to sort out the types of candidates the employers want to hire. A lot of HR systems are designed to shortlist job applicants based on their records in the HR database. 

If you are not getting any calls from the company you interviewed before, it is likely that you have been automatically screened out. But that doesn’t have to be the case anymore. Everybody deserves a second chance, and so do you. You can start afresh and get that interview by exercising your right to be forgotten. To get a clean slate all you need to do is contact the companies which you interviewed for in the past and demand to get your personal information deleted.

Besides companies that hire their own employees in-house, that are many recruiting services and online platforms that help prospectors find their next challenge. These "Career" services, aren't that different from the recruiting companies when it comes to the personal data they hold about you.

Besides having your resume (containing personal info such as your address and contacts) and the fact that they know each time you are searching for a new job (which could get leaked to your current employer), they also receive impressions from the recruiting companies. These past impressions might block you from getting an interview for your dream job.

Another thing to consider is that sometimes these hiring services know exactly what is your pay expectations and that might cause a conflict of interest as their first priority is to man the position and cash in on their commission.

Our data shows that the average number of recruiting services found in a person's digital footprint is 7.6. Just think about the large number of people that can access your personal data just because you searched for a job at one point. If the services you used before aren't relevant anymore, there is no reason to let them keep your data, just ask them to delete it.

Job Search Services Digital Footprint

Apparently, privacy requests aren't just related to the hiring process, a poll conducted in 2020 revealed that 31 percent of the data subject access requests (DSAR) came from employees. It seems that ex-employees are very interested in knowing what personal data that their employers have collected about them. As an employee or an ex-employee, it's your right to request for either rectification or removal of data, and it is the legal responsibility of the employer to promptly respond to the request.

Pie Chart - DSARs in UK 2020

Managing your digital footprint with Mine 

You leave countless trails of your digital footprint in the form of your name, address, phone number, email, social media, and so on. No matter how careful you are with your online presence, your privacy is always at risk. This not only affects your personal life but your career as well.

To maintain a positive and professional outlook in the digital world, you should take control of your online presence. You can either try manually locating your personal data scattered across various platforms, or you can manage your digital footprint with Mine. Our AI-powered smart data assistant can help you to discover your digital footprints and send official deletion requests automatically.

Cleaning Your Digital Footprint Prior to Job Searching