Your digital identity
Digital identity has become a very important part of twenty-first-century life. It’s about how you present yourself online to ensure you make the impression you want. Even if you don’t feel you want to spend a lot of time online, it’s still useful to think about what others can see of you. Your digital identity is not something completely detached from the rest of life. It can be a way of expressing who you are in a meaningful and engaging way, to people and communities you want to connect with.
Your digital footprint
You may have heard the phrase ‘digital footprint’. This is about the traces you leave online. It includes information about you and your online activity such as:
- profiles on social networking sites such as Facebook
- photographs that you or others have posted online
- anything that has been written about you, for example, on discussion boards or Facebook.
The following activity will help you to find out what your digital footprint currently looks like.
Activity 4.1 Reviewing your digital footprint Allow 20 minutes for this activity
Take a moment to think about the places where you have been or are currently active online. Even if you are not very active online, it is still worth doing the activity to establish your starting point for developing your digital identity.
Put your name into a search engine (i.e. Google) and see what comes up. Any surprises?
First steps to a good digital footprint
If you are fairly new to life online, it is natural to feel cautious about what you disclose to others. On the other hand, you may be used to sharing quite freely without giving it much thought. By learning a bit more about how to manage your digital footprint, you will be better equipped to stay in control of the information about you that others can see online.
Being in control of your own information is becoming more and more important when applying for jobs. Many employers look at the digital profile of prospective employees and the recruitment process itself increasingly takes place online. One blog author suggests that 89 per cent of recruiters have hired someone through LinkedIn, and that 73 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds found their last job through a social network (Medved, 2014).
In real life, you probably behave differently with your friends and family than you do at work. Online it’s important to think about the image you are projecting to others and who might be reading what you put there.