Every person embarking on a job search thinks they have all the bases covered: resume, cover letter and good references. But many forget about one important concern: their digital footprint. In today’s connected world, your online activities are only one small search away. Everything you do online has the possibility of being seen by a potential employer.  As more companies turn to researching their candidates online, it’s more important for job seekers to understand their online presence as well as how to improve it. Here are six tips for optimizing your digital footprint.

1) Search for yourself

The first step to evaluating and improving your online presence is to learn what other people see when they look for you online. Go to the most popular search engines and search your name — preferably the name you list on your resume or job applications. What results are returned? Are they positive? Is there anything that needs to be remedied?

2) Change your privacy settings

Many social networks’ default privacy settings are set to public. The settings you choose will most likely be on a case-to-case basis. Maybe you want to fully protect your personal Facebook page while keeping your professional Twitter account available publicly, for example. Go through each of your profiles and adjust the privacy settings accordingly.

3) Write compelling bios

Most social network sites have a space to write a short bio of yourself. Make these as professional as possible and include keywords relevant to your industry or the types of jobs you’re looking for. Keep it short, sweet, professional and interesting.

4) Look through your photos

Don’t forget to do an image search of yourself during step one. You’ll want to look closely at any public photos of you. Do they accurately represent how you want to be seen by potential employers? Your digital footprint is more than just words. Either delete questionable photos or hide them with strict privacy settings. You may also need to ask friends to delete or un-tag photos of you they have on their profiles.

5) Make regular updates

Be an active user of any platform you’re on. You shouldn’t “set and forget” your profiles. Remember to regularly check that all your information is up-to-date and gives the most authentic impression of you as possible.

6) Stay professional

Don’t forget — a prospective employer can potentially see everything you post online. Maintain a professional, level-headed demeanor on social networks and always keep your potential audience in mind. When in doubt, don’t post it.

Building and optimizing your digital footprint is an important part of any job search today. After all, your online presence could be the difference between landing a job and losing it.

Images © DearMilano