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Returning to STEM
Returning to STEM

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4 Managing your digital footprint

The previous two sections invited you to focus on personal reflection. This section looks at the identity you are already presenting to the world. Throughout the BOC you will need to make decisions about what aspects of your life and experience you include or exclude in your applications and CV, and how best to describe the things you have achieved so far. This can take some time and will not necessarily be a one-off task; you will need to refine this as you get a clearer idea about what it is you want to do next. One way of describing this is identity work. You will work on this in more detail in Week 2.

A key part of your identity work is managing your digital footprint, which includes everything on the internet that is about you. This could include:

  • a profile on social media such as Facebook, or Twitter (as well as LinkedIn)
  • photos of you or that you, your friends or family have posted online
  • anything you have written or that has been written about you; for example, on discussion boards, blogs or in articles.
Digital footprint
Figure 3 Digital footprint

Activity 3 Uncover your digital footprint

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

To understand what people can view about you on the internet and to be able to see your digital footprint, try a Google search for yourself. This will show you what potential employers might see if they search for you. Search for your name now and see what information already exists about you. What did you find? Did it surprise you? If there are things that you don’t necessarily want potential employers to see if they googled you, now is the time to think about changing your privacy settings on social media, or even removing material about yourself from certain sites.

Some privacy tips

  • Consider using a different name (for example, a nickname) for your more private personal profile, and change the privacy settings on your social networking site so that only your friends can see your personal information.
  • Remove anything from your public profile that is personal or private, or that might cause a negative impression with a prospective employer. Avoid inappropriate language or ill-advised comments or jokes.

Enhancing your footprint

You may be pleasantly surprised by the amount of coverage you have on social media and, in fact, some employment sectors (e.g. advertising, public relations and the media, as well as the tech sector) may expect and even actively encourage you to have a digital footprint. They may look for examples of your online creativity; for example, blogs, profiles or videos.

You can enhance your digital footprint by making contributions to blogs, news articles and discussions, or by adding reviews to technology websites. Keeping a positive online presence regularly updated can reduce the impact of any earlier content you may want to bury, because most internet searchers rarely access more than the top few results.