For many of us, our digital identities have come to be defined by passivity, more than proactivity. In fact, very few of us would even consider that handful of social media accounts – and a much-overlooked LinkedIn profile – to represent anything like a ‘digital identity’. Rather, they often represent a means to an end – a necessary step to take if we want to keep in touch with what others are up to online.
There is, of course, nothing inherently wrong with this. From a young age, many of us were routinely lectured on the dangers of sharing too much online – of forgetting that others (particularly prospective employers) can and will see everything we do.
This represents a modern-day cautionary tale, but very few of us have yet embraced the positive potential that comes from such a high degree of visibility – and such a high level of interest from prospective employers.
For, when recruiters and employers go looking for us online, the best way to stand out as a valuable employee isn’t to boast a bland and benign presence on social media – it’s to boast a unique, interesting and professional identify, carefully curated by you, and you alone.
Whether you’ve always shied away from the sheer power of the internet, or, more simply, have never realised quite how beneficial a strong digital identity can be, read our golden rules for taking control of our online persona, below.
1. Create an Online Resume
What is the first thing you want prospective employers to see when they Google your name? A handful of social media accounts, or all of your professional skills and achievements collated together in one space?
No, we’re not talking about a LinkedIn profile – we are talking instead about an online resume or, in other words, a website dedicated to your unique attributes as a professional. As a modern replacement to the traditional resume, these sites are exploding across the web, and offering early adopters a much better platform for pursuing the limelight in their chosen career.
As soon as you make the decision to create an online resume, you should undergo a domain name search; even if building your website, and organising your professional attributes together, takes you a little more time, securing that digital address is incredibly important – and time sensitive.
2. Delete Old Posts
Just because the value of our digital identities has moved beyond social media, that’s not to say that those old profiles no longer matter.
Many of us have never posted anything that employers would consider to be ‘deal breakers’, but many of us have been in possession of a number of social media accounts for the better part of two decades.
What this means is that, while our older posts may be relatively benign, it is highly unlikely that they reflect us as people or employees now – or that they reflect how we expect to be seen by people first encountering us online.
Again, this means going beyond the benign approach of simply avoiding posting anything controversial or damaging, and actively seeking out those posts that may simply put across an outdated or inaccurate impression. It will, however, mean that you never have to second guess or fret over your social media accounts in the future.
3. Protect What You Own
While being more discerning toward the type of content you put out onto the web – whether it’s a blog post or a selfie on Instagram – is incredibly important, it can be extremely damaging to overlook the importance of protective measures. In essence, even the most professional and carefully-curated online presence can be torn down in an instant by the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Protecting your accounts against any worst-case-scenarios – however unlikely they may seem at this point in time – is a step none of us can ever afford to miss. Just as we secure our homes and lock our car doors, so too must we understand how to keep our online property inaccessible.
Passwords, even relatively strong ones, are no longer sufficient against the mounting threats of online hackers. Utilising best practices like two-factor authentication is the best way of ensuring that your accounts will not fall into the hands of someone who could all too easily undo all the hard work you have invested into them.
Taking charge of your digital identity can be a rewarding and highly beneficial use of your time. More so than shying away from any activities or posts that may reflect poorly on you, the internet can be utilised as a highly effective and modern medium for attracting positive attention. Follow our golden rules, and ensure you keep up with the latest trends for making the most of the internet, rather than shying away from the full scope of its potential.