Is an Online Fooprint Better than No Footprint?  Yes.Online privacy.  It is a huge subject right now, with the debate centering on how much of your life should be private and how much should be made part of the public record.  Whether or not you have a Facebook account or a LinkedIn profile or you “tweet”, you probably know people who have eschewed the entire social media “scene”.  Their reasons can range from getting annoyed at all the inane things others post to simply wanting to lead a private life.

They have little/no digital footprint. If you “google” them, the only information you will see is their white page’s listing or a link to reunion.com.

However, they are not fooling anyone.  Just because a person decides not to create an online presence, it does not mean that they do not have an online presence.  They have just forfeited the right to control it.

Digital Shadows

Everyone casts a digital shadow. Everyone. As we go about our day-to-day lives, we leave a trail of publicly available information behind.  That information, thanks to technology, finds its way onto the Internet, where it can be found by any interested party.  Been sued?  Bought a house?  Filed for a business license?  Got a divorce? These are all examples of information that can be found in the public record. The fact that these records are public cannot be disputed, but just because they are, does not mean that everything in them is true.  Disputes can easily arise, and, when they do, false allegations can be made.

Falsehoods are hard to combat.  Once something is on the web, many people believe that it is true.  Think about the State Farm Insurance commercial titled “French Model”.  It is hilarious, but because it mocks what many people believe…that everything on the Internet is true.

Scary…but manageable.  We all have things that have been said to us and about us that do not represent who we are.  No one is perfect, but to ignore the fact that there is information about you on the Internet is to court disaster.

First Impressions and Reputations

Recruiters and hiring managers are smart. They will try to find you on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google +, and they will “google” your name.  If they cannot find anything initially, they will not quit.  They will dig deeper.  They want to make a good hire. There are dozens of free (and subscription-based) “deep web” search engines which can pull personal details that a typical Google search will not deliver.  This information may not be what you want your first impression to consist of.  Think about.  How many other people – with less stellar reputations – have your same name?  How many frenemies do you have that could potentially post “less-than-complimentary” pictures and/or content about you?  Everyone has a past, and not everyone knows who you are on sight…especially, if you have a common name.  When you give up control of your “first impression” and reputation, you are leaving your (and others’) past wide open for people to find and to form opinions about.

Therefore, make sure anyone who may want to interview you (and maybe hire you) will find exactly what you want them to know about you.

What You Need to Do

You need to have an online presence to help convince recruiters/hiring managers that you are the person for the job.  At minimum, you should have a Linked profile, which ranks high with search engines.  If you have a Facebook account, you can still post, just tighten your privacy settings while ensuring that your education, work and contact information is still accessible.  Finally, think about opening a Google + account and completely fill out the profile.  Since it is a “Google” product, it will rank high in any/all “google” searches.  V

When you create and manage your online footprint, you are able to control better what information people see and avoid the idea that there is something wrong with you because you are not involved in social media.

We invite you to visit the social media section of the Snelling Candidate Resource Hub where you can learn about the impact that social media and your online activity can have on your job search.  In addition, bookmark our Candidate Connection Blog or subscribe to its RSS feed.  We publish weekly job search advice, geared to help you better position yourself in the eyes and minds of recruiters and hiring managers everywhere.

NOTE:  A full-color, downloadable PDF is available.

By Christiane Soto, Snelling.com

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