Posted on October 28, 2017

Do You Have Digital Skeletons in Your Closet?Do You Have Digital Skeletons

If this year’s Presidential race has taught us anything, it’s to not underestimate the power of an internet search. In the past months, we’ve been exposed to an avalanche of “private” emails, old radio interviews, twitter rants, and vintage videos from both parties. Nothing our two candidates have posted, sent, tweeted, or spoken throughout their entire careers is off limits, and can be viewed by anyone with a click of a mouse.

Even if you’re not being stalked by paparazzi or have your every move followed by millions, you should still take notice. The amount of information shared over the internet affects you. I’m willing to bet information exists about YOU that can be uncovered in a simple Google search.

Your LinkedIn profile, comments you made on an industry blog, a picture you’re tagged in from your niece’s birthday party…all searchable and chances are, there’s nothing too harmful to be found.

But even internet sensation Ken Bone, the “huggable, likable guy” from the second Presidential debate was vulnerable to digital skeletons. A deep dig last week into his Reddit account revealed unsavory comments on random threads – turning him from hero of the Presidential Town Hall debate to scorned internet zero overnight.

I get it, you’re not running for President, and not planning to become internet famous anytime soon. What does this have to do with you?

Everything You Do Online Says Something About You

So much of what we do is documented somewhere online, and your digital footprint is only as private as you make it. Your twitter shares, Facebook page likes, Instagram hashtags, places you check into – all contribute to your online personal brand. This affects you when your name is searched by prospective clients or employers, potential dates, your boss – and will leave the searcher with a positive or negative impression of you, without ever asking your permission or input.

If you’re currently a jobseeker, you can expect the highest amount of scrutiny into your digital past. Companies and recruiters will most likely run a search with the intent of learning about your personality and moral character. A Jobvite survey reveals that 92% of recruiters actively use internet searches to find information on a candidate, while 35% admit they have eliminated a candidate from consideration based on the information they discovered online.

Use Google to Your Advantage

Making a favorable impression online can help you land the interview, get the promotion or look attractive to prospective dates. The first step is to remove all incriminating information online, if possible. Next, go through all of your social media privacy settings and lock down accounts where you regularly post personal information. Be sure to leave at least one account public, where you’ll post content that showcases your skills and builds credibility.  Positive content includes your involvement in community activities, profile on a business network such as LinkedIn, and posts that demonstrate good communication skills.

Take Control of Your Personal Brand Online

The more positive information you post for searchers to find easily online, the less likely they’ll dig into Google and find negative content. If you have a common name or there’s someone with the same name who already has a strong online presence (positive or negative), you’ll need to stand out even more.

Here are some great ways to boost your online credibility:

  • Write guest articles for industry blogs. This shows that you are an expert and a thought leader in your field.
  • Share industry news on Twitter or LinkedIn. You don’t have to write the article; just share it along with a personal comment.
  • Participate in online discussions such as LinkedIn groups or professional blogs.
  • Post videos of yourself speaking or interviewing someone else. There’s no better way to show off your communication skills!

Don’t Be an Online Ghost

don't be an online ghostIf you think you’ve avoided these pitfalls by having no digital footprint, think again. Dodging a professional online presence may be hurting you more than you know. Casting no digital shadow gives off the impression you have something to hide, are technologically challenged, or just don’t care. In fact, more than one-third of employers say they are less likely to interview a job candidate for whom no online information can be found, according to a 2015 survey by CareerBuilder.

Don’t let this information overwhelm you; we can help. The first step is to conduct a Personal Brand Analysis to discover what your digital footprint is saying about you. We’ll provide a strategy for immediate fixes and long-term goals for your Personal Brand online. So when your digital closet is searched, they may find a few virtual dust bunnies-- but no digital skeletons.