What do we mean by digital employability?
As a student, you may not have considered your digital employability a great deal, but it is important to think about how you present yourself online. This is because some aspects of what you post online could affect your future employability. Employers are more frequently looking through search engines and social networks as a form of pre-screening candidates. This means potential employers could be checking out what you are doing online and how you present yourself. This screening is done as early as the application phase before candidates are interviewed and most employers perform this screening post-interview and before the appointment. This makes your online presence very important for your employability.
If you have any inappropriate content on your social media or anything that portrays you in a negative light it can really affect your job prospects.
What should I look out for when it comes to my digital employability?
Below you can see a list of things you should avoid when it comes to digital employability. While some may seem obvious you may have overlooked some issues or made a subtle mistake. You might say well I know I haven’t posted anything inappropriate but maybe someone you know has tagged you in a potentially embarrassing photo or comment. It is important to remember that even though you may be responsible online, others may not.
What should I avoid sharing?
Do you share too much online? Employers may be concerned you lack discretion. Inappropriate comments about your current or former colleagues, bosses and employers is always inadvisable. You should be careful what you share online and who you share it with.
Some employers won’t like to see the use of profanity or inappropriate language. If you know that you post such language publicly then either stop using it and consider removing it from previous posts. If you want to use that language, only use it in private chats as your employer may be concerned it will happen in the workplace too.
This depends on the organisation, as the occasional post about an alcoholic may not be a concern. You do need to think carefully think what public image these posts portray could portray about you. If you regularly post about drinking and hangovers after heavy nights out, then you may seriously damage your employability. This doesn’t mean you can never post anything like this, but you should check your privacy settings and make sure you’re not telling everyone.
This is similar to alcohol-related posts as pictures of student nights, fancy dress parties and crazy nights out are fun while you are a student. However, you need to be aware of who can see them. For photos and posts like this, you should ensure you need to give permission to be tagged in them. As you probably don’t want your future boss seeing that photo of you dressed like Super Man? As well as this you should make sure any pictures of yourself on professional profiles like LinkedIn are sensible and smart.
Everyone has their opinion on politics or their own spiritual views, you just need to be careful who you share them with. Depending on your career you may have to be careful about sharing such beliefs. Civil Servants for example must be apolitical so any posts about politics are career-threatening. You should also be careful about sharing anything that could be compromising.
Anything that looks like you are harassing or bullying others is never acceptable. Even if it was a joke between friends if any potential employers see anything they would consider bullying you are incredibly unlikely to be considered for the job. While this may seem obvious, you need to consider how inside jokes between your friends may look to an outsider. If something can be misinterpreted, then make sure you remove it. This includes things that you have not written but are posted onto your profile/wall. If you leave such things there, you are in effect endorsing it so be careful about what you leave there.
Make sure you provide the same information across all the different social media and websites you use. Inconsistency with details like qualifications and education may concern some employers, especially if your online profiles contradict your C.V. This also includes exaggerating; it may be tempting to embellish your experiences you may think I’ll just say my trip to France was actually an exchange they’ll never know. I know we want to make ourselves look as employable as possible but if you go too far your employers will probably find out and it won’t be good for you.
This one should be obvious, but this is certainly something your future employer and colleagues do not need to know about. Be careful what you post on public networks and keep your private life private. You should always avoid sharing intimate pictures or videos either publicly or privately. You could easily lose control of such media and it can be very damaging to your reputation – let alone the potential embarrassment involved.
This is another one that is similar to alcohol as references to drugs also can negatively impact people’s perception of you. What you think about drugs is a different issue, but most employers would not find this appropriate.
Keep the shorthand and text speak to texts. If you are posting anything publicly, think about how it represents you. The same principle applies to any form of professional communication. If potential employers see poor spelling and grammar on your online profiles, it raises questions about your language abilities.
Relevant skills guide: The Digital Student: Digital is employable