Managing Your Online Identity

Nowdays we have two identities, our actual personality and our online identity.

Both are real and both are extremely valuable to you to your future. It’s really important to manage your online footprint.

Your online reputation is often referred to as your digital footprint, and is most easily spotted on your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter page. The profile you create in these is the equivalent of your digital CV.

Just like an employment CV, your digital footprint will say a whole lot about you to people you will never have met. What you give them is what they’ll get, and if all you can show them is you doing or saying silly, nasty or inappropriate things, that’s the impression they are going to get of you.

The good news is that your digital footprint can be managed and altered over time to portray you in a positive (and hopefully employable) light.

Here are some steps you can take to enhance your online identity:

  • Work on the assumption that whatever you post could potentially be seen by millions. Make it good.
  • If you can, get rid of any negative comments or posts about yourself or bad stuff you've posted about others. Apologise if you have to – it works.
  • Put positive information about yourself up. Get your friends and family to help post your positives online. If you have helped in a fundraiser, taken a part in Stage Challenge, made the top netball team, won an award – put it out there. If you can, include a picture or video clip.
  • Make a point of Following or Liking the institution you hope to apply to or the company you hope will give you a job.
  • Google yourself reasonably regularly to check your online footprint and what you might need to do to improve it.
  • Try thinking about yourself as having two different personalities when you are online. One is the ‘business you’, the one hoping to get into that hostel or to be called for that job interview. The other one is the ‘fun you’, the one you share with your good friends. Set up the fun side with tight privacy settings so you can enjoy your mates but not expose yourself too much.
  • Opt out of tagging and face recognition; this way you can help protect yourself from embarrassing moments ahead. Unless you need it, turn off your geo-location information.

Just for balance, here’s a bit of what you shouldn’t be doing when it comes to your digital footprint:

  • Don’t use a dumb email address. Keep it professional and avoid addresses like bigbadbob@... or toosexy4u@.... These are not winning addresses for employers or admission people.
  • Don’t invite your potential new boss or the hostel admission team to be your friends. Keep the ‘business you’ separate.
  • Don’t post or let others post silly or indiscrete photos of you online. Show your best side, not your worst.
  • Never assume that delete means it is gone. It’s not. It’s still there and they might just find it.
  • Never attack or take it out on someone online, or respond angrily if something is not true. Keep your dignity. Sure, say that something is not true and just leave it at that as you rarely win online battles, and to keep on at it can make you look guilty.

Find out more about looking after yourself