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Golden Guide Career Advice: Enhance Your Digital Footprint

Lydia Lazar

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Golden Tip No. 13: Influence What Employers See About You Online

Golden Guide Career Advice is a series from the AMA in partnership with Lydia Lazar, author of Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People. A new tip in the series will be posted each Tuesday—all tips are available here.

Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at deardeanlazar@gmail.com—the answer may appear in a future post.

Make a checklist of the adjectives you want employers to think of when they review you as a potential hire. Use those words yourself when appropriate and post things that will inspire others to use those words to describe you.

These days, it’s a truism that the internet is your resume. In this post and the next, I’ve outlined some of the most important steps to take to be sure that your digital footprint enhances your efforts to look for a job, build your professional reputation and prosper in your career. Most fundamentally, everyone needs to actively manage their online presence and work to ensure that any negative material is taken down or proactively submerged in a wave of positive material.

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Step One

Honestly inventory your online presence. Google yourself (and any prior aliases or usernames) using a different browser than you normally would or search incognito/privately, so that the result you see will be as unfiltered as possible by the algorithms Google has tailored for you. Make sure you see what others are seeing about you.

  • Immediately start to take steps to hide or delete anything that is possibly unprofessional or might be construed as demonstrating bad judgment. Don’t waste time on self-recrimination: just do it.

Step Two

Use the online world to project a positive image of yourself to employers. You demonstrate your skill set and your personality to potential employers through your online presence—what are they learning about you?

  • Are you expressing yourself clearly and consistently when you post comments or otherwise reveal yourself online?
  • Are your various online profiles complete and consistent with one another?
  • Do you post examples of recent creative work that you have done?
  • Would a review of your recent online interactions show that you are a thoughtful person and that you get along with others?

Remember: In today’s world, it is essentially impossible to take total control of your online presence, since there are myriad ways that we leave our digital footprints as we shop, socialize and live online. What people see about you online is constantly evolving as you live your life, yet it is possible to be intentional and thoughtful about your own communications.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.


Dean Lazar's Golden Guide

For more career tips, read Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People, available on Amazon and at your local bookstore. Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at deardeanlazar@gmail.com—the answer may appear in a future post.

Lydia Lazar is founder and president of LHL Consulting. She is the former associate dean for recruitment and career services at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, and previously, dean of international law and policy overseeing international student admissions (LLM) at Chicago-Kent College of Law.