Impact of digital footprints on employment opportunities

Zar Ali Khan

Have you ever Googled yourself or tried to explore your online digital footprints? These footprints are the traces and digital records of your actions, behaviours, and engagements that you have left behind on various digital media platforms. You might be one of the 4.76 billion users who are actively using social media platforms for accessing and sharing information. However, have you ever wondered what kind of digital footprint you’re leaving behind?

The impact of social media on our lives is undeniable. According to social media statistics of January 2023, an average user spends 6 hours and 37 minutes browsing content on social media platforms each day. However, what we failed to realize is the significant influence of social media in the professional sphere. These platforms have become a reflection of our preferences, hobbies, and even our emotional state.

Modern social media platforms are powered by artificial intelligence. The complex algorithms of these platforms curate content based on users’ searching habits. As a result, every ‘click’, ‘like’, and ‘share’ contributes to shaping our digital identity which is a portrait of who we are in the virtual world.

Although social media platforms were initially developed for social interaction, they have now evolved into a handy tool for decision-making. Consider the scenario where potential employers utilize the same platforms to gain deep insights into candidates’ personalities, their strengths, and weaknesses beyond what’s presented in their resumes. According to a survey conducted in 2020, 70 percent of the employers believe that screening candidates’ social media profiles is an indispensable aspect of the hiring process. In fact, a staggering 78 percent of employers expect their current employees to maintain a work-appropriate digital presence. The interesting part of the research is that more than half (55%) have found content on the candidates’ timelines that caused them not to hire the applicant.

Keeping in view the professional side of the online media, it becomes evident that maintaining a positive online reputation is no longer a choice but a necessity for professionals and job seekers. A poorly curated social media account which mostly contains unauthentic information, hate speech and disparaging content, could adversely impact job prospects. The question now is that how can one ensure a favourable online presence? The key lies in balance and mindfulness. While it’s essential to be authentic and express oneself genuinely, it’s equally crucial to be mindful of the content we share. We must make our platforms a window into the best version of ourselves. We must understand that ‘Googling ourselves’ is more than just a casual endeavour, it’s a crucial step in securing professional success in the digital age.

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the boundaries between personal and professional life continue to blur. By cultivating a positive digital presence, we can enhance our employability and inspire the potential employers. Our digital narrative is always in our hands. Let’s take charge of our online presence and maintain a professional reputation through a balanced approach. While it’s essential to present ourselves to the relevant folks, let’s also cherish the authentic social experience that social media was originally meant for. What are you waiting for, Google yourself and gain your social insights now.

The Author is working as Deputy Director-IT in the Directorate General Information & PRs, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.