5 ways Gen Z job seekers can clean up their digital footprint, from an HR expert

Gen Z is waking up to the very real consequences of their digital footprint. 

digital footprint is the trail of information and data we leave behind with our online activity. When you visit a website, make an online purchase or post on social media, you contribute to your footprint. 

Gen Z TikToker @shoomew went viral for losing out on a $20-per-hour job after failing a background check. 

@shoomew

IT WAS 20$ AN HOUR TOO!! WITH NO EXPERIENCE!! ALL I HAD TO DO WAS GREET PEOPLE AT A SKI PLACE ☹️☹️

♬ Dracula – Horror Sound FX – Merrick Lowell

“Me realizing digital footprint is real because when called for a job interview they loved me,” she explained. “But when they did a background check they said they didn’t want to hire me anymore.”

Michelle Hague, HR manager at Solar Panels Network USA, shares her tips for Gen Z job seekers on how to clean up their digital footprint. Hague says that while you may want to delete potentially damaging content, that may not always work out. 

“Instead, job seekers should focus on presenting a professional and positive online presence that showcases their skills, experiences and values,” Hague tells In The Know. 

Here are Hague’s five tips for maintaining a positive digital footprint for potential employers.

Use Privacy Settings: Set your social media accounts to private or use privacy settings to limit which posts and personal information are publicly available. 

“Remember that anything you post online can potentially be seen by an employer, so it’s important to keep this in mind when sharing personal opinions or engaging in online debates,” Hague says. 

Keep Your Online Profiles Up to Date: Update your online profiles with professional experiences and accomplishments. 

“This will help to demonstrate your skills and qualifications to potential employers,” she explains. 

Use Keywords: When tweaking your profiles, use relevant keywords that potential employers might look for. 

“This will help your profiles show up in employer searches and increase your chances of being noticed,” Hague says. 

Build a Personal Brand: Hague advises using your digital footprint to strategically create a personal brand that highlights your skills and experiences. 

Some ways to do this, she says, include “creating a personal website or blog, sharing your work on professional networking sites, or participating in online communities related to your industry.” 

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