How to Clean Up Your Digital Footprint When Job Hunting

Recruiting agents and hiring managers have been known to perform in-depth social and search engine searches on potential candidates, which means you need to ensure your digital brand is clean, prepared and professional.

Google yourself to see which results may be harming your personal brand.

Google yourself to see which results may be harming your personal brand.

Step 1: Google Yourself

Your first step to a tidy digital profile is finding out just how bad it is out there. Google yourself and take note! What kind of content appears: photos, articles, blog posts?

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Step 2: Clean Up Your Accounts

Go through your social accounts in meticulous detail. Review your posts, comments, shared links and photos, including those you’ve been tagged in. Remove anything that could be considered offensive or inappropriate – and be conservative when deciding what’s appropriate. This typically means profanity used in posts, comments riddled with typos and revealing images that show last weekend’s debauchery. And no, changing your privacy settings isn’t enough!

Don’t be afraid to reach out to others and ask for content to be removed. Most social content is likely uploaded by your friends or social acquaintances, who should have no problem removing the questionable content.

Step 3: Push Down Negative Results

If you can’t have the negative search results removed, burying them under a ton of positive content is your next best option.  You can do this easily by signing up for a bunch of high-ranking (and free) profiles, such as:

  • A personal website/blog
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Quora
  • Slideshare

Major social networks are heavy competitors with regards to search engine optimization; they receive tons of traffic, the content is frequently updated, and they naturally collect hundreds of thousands of backlinks – all-important factors in ranking. When your name becomes the search engine keyword, these websites all rank organically and typically on the first page. The main exception is your personal website. Since its ultimately optimized for your name, it ranks high and will likely take the top position.

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Step 4: Own your own domain

Everyone should own their own domain – especially those actively searching for a new position. Buy your name ( and build a simple website that has the following information:

  • Your biography
  • Links to your social accounts (if appropriate)
  • A digital portfolio
  • Testimonials from coworkers and clients
  • A way to contact you.

The website does not need to be elaborate – a simple WordPress website will suffice and require very little outside help.  Just ensure the website matches your brand: use colors, fonts and images that reflect your personality and industry.

Step 5: Change the Message with Your New Digital Properties

Now that you have a few digital platforms set-up, change the conversation by taking your brand messaging into your own hands. Create and update a professional blog, comment on top articles from thought leaders in your industry and frequently update your social accounts with professionally-oriented content.

Maintaining multiple social accounts can be time-consuming so a reliable social media management tool like HootSuite is recommended to effectively manage your digital identity.

Be mindful that a clean digital footprint needs to be maintained regularly since search engine results can fluctuate dramatically over time. Its recommended you Google yourself often to ensure your digital identity remains strong.

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Category: IT / Tech Career and Employment Advice

About Grant McElmury

Grant McElmury is a 12-year IT Job professional, specializing in career advancement and work-life satisfaction.

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