Technology follows us everywhere. As a Gen Xer I look back on how technology has changed our lives, our jobs, and even our children. Do you remember applying for your first job, faxing or mailing your resume with a typed cover letter? My first job out of college was with a government contractor and it required me to obtain a moderate level of security clearance. That was before Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Now I’m not saying I was a “bad” kid in college but I did my fair share of “exploring”. After all it was my first time really away from home and my parents. That was in the 90’s, we didn’t have to worry about our “digital footprint”. If by chance an unflattering Polaroid appeared, you could always burn it. Now with a daughter who is 13, I feel like my "mom lectures" to her about her “digital footprint” are a weekly occurrence.
Have you thought about your digital footprint? Recently I read an article about a high school senior that was accepted to college, packed and ready to go….then someone in admissions found his Twitter account…..admission revoked. Did your fraternity brother think it was funny when he posted that 20 year old picture and tagged you on Facebook wearing a beer hat and a harem of women around you at a Halloween party in 1988? Schools and employers judge you personally and professional not only by the experience listed on your resume or application, but what comes up when they “Google” you. Your personal brand is reflected not only by what you do in your job but by your business and social media accounts. Unlike that Polaroid, you can’t burn them.
Building and maintaining your digital profile is crucial in our digital age whether you’re an IT Manager, B2B Architect, Marketing professional, or EDI Consultant. Here are a few things to consider:
- Know what’s out there. Check Google Images, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…..set up your profiles so you have to approve what’s posted with your name on it to avoid the 20 year old embarrassing picture getting indexed forever.
- Expect potential employers and clients to search for you before building a relationship, be proud of what they find, use it as an additional opportunity to sell yourself.
- Your LinkedIn profile is an extension of your resume, use it to highlight your accomplishments. Make sure you have a professional picture, not the party picture from 20 years ago.
- Do not bash your current or former employer on social networks, you may think that only your “friends” can see it but it only takes one share or comment to compromise your image.
Your digital profile is an asset to your professional brand…and your personal brand for that matter. Use it wisely. Are you wondering what’s out there with your name on it yet? Take a few minutes and Google yourself, revisit those security settings on your social network pages (are you sure it’s really “private”). As a Gen Xer we not only have to worry about a digital profile for ourselves, but our children also. Our children are the first generation to grow up with “I” everything. Lead by example and choose wisely. Your digital brand is something that’s easy to update and difficult to erase.