Given the way that technology is quickly gaining a stronger influence on our daily lives, more and more employers, schools, and other people in power will turn towards the internet to get information on any person under consideration for a position. Even if your online presence isn’t inherently negative, an applicant with a positive presence will be much more likely to receive a position than an applicant with a blank slate. For example, if the university I’ve applied to is doing a background check, and if they find no results, they might be hesitant about what kind of person I am outside of school. However, if I put effort into my online portfolio, the school might find a professional looking collection of work and explanations of other things I do inside and outside of school. Alternatively, an employer may be unsure of who they should hire; between two applicants, if one person has a blatantly negative online presence, they will likely be taken out of consideration.
There are many ways to ensure your digital footprint is mainly positive. The first thing you should do is set your account settings to private, and don’t accept any followers whom you don’t know. Remember, this isn’t foolproof, but it will keep most people from accessing your posts. Alternatively, you can keep a portfolio of any accomplishments and recognitions you want to display. When employers search for your name, they’ll find a collection of positive additions to your portfolio. However, the simplest way to do so is to remember that, even if your account is private, anything posted online should be something that you could show to anyone and not be embarrassed. You never know who’ll be able to access your posts in the future.
Personally, I feel that in the past I’ve been relatively safe online. However, I would give other students and younger people this advice: remember that everything you do online is there forever. You can leave a positive or negative presence in your wake, and nothing you do is truly anonymous.