For college students, online footprints could be just everything to jump start their career, or not. These tracks are your life’s digital imprints. Things that you do not only deliberately write in your CV for your LinkedIn profile, but also the horrid comments you dropped in your Facebook page when you felt disgusted or the last tweet that mentions nasty review over a crappy movie you last saw. Or, you could also be one of the thoughtless spies that blow your cover by revealing that you are working for the CIA via your uploaded CV in LinkedIn. Your online footprints are anything you did online that can be traced back to you.
But, what if you have a very common name and you do not like what you are seeing when you “Google” you name? This was what Samantha Grossman, a recent Syracuse graduate, was problematic about.
“It wasn’t anything too horrible,” she said. “I just have a common name. There would be pictures, college partying pictures, that weren’t of me, things I wouldn’t want associated with me.”
“I wanted to make sure people would find the actual me and not these other people,” she said.
Good thing her alma mater provided her with a tool to let hew scrub what will be seen online when a potential employer searches for her name over the internet. She landed a digital advertising job in New York and she credits much of her early success to this tool that allowed her to put her best foot forward online and show professional photos and cum laude credentials from Syracuse University.
Three universities in Baltimore namely Syracuse, Rochester and Johns Hopkins offer this online tool to their students for free. They understand how past actions and associations brought by curiosity free-spirited minds can be troublesome for the careers of the graduates.
But not all colleges offer the same instrument to their students. Some do it the traditional way.
“These students have been comfortable with the intimate details of their lives on display since birth,” said Lisa Severy, president-elect of the National Career Development Association and director of career services at the University of Colorado-Boulder, which does not offer the service.
“The first item on our ‘five things to do before you graduate’ list is ‘clean up your online profile,'” she said. “We call it the grandma test — if you don’t want her to see it, you probably don’t want an employer to, either.”
Human resources professionals have confessed to searching for Facebook or Twitter pages of their candidates at one point or another during the hiring process. The insane obsession on Facebook has led many to believe that this is a good gauge of someone’s social behavior that could predict his future performance at work. Some said that they have eliminated a good chunk of applicants judging from their online reputation. So the next time you want to fire back at an offensive tirade in a forum, think twice. Or, maybe send the person of concern an email or personal message.
Summing these things all up will lead us to becoming extremely mindful of our online footprints. If you have just submitted an application to an employer, chances are they are “Googling” your name at this very moment and evaluating what comes up.