Guide for Gen Z Job Seekers: Clearing Your Digital Footprint Step by Step

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In today's digital world, your online presence isn't just about posts and pictures. It reflects who you are, what you stand for, and how you could be seen professionally. Remember, before you meet face-to-face, your digital footprint might already be speaking for you. You have the power to shape your online identity. Keep in mind, how you present yourself online can either boost your opportunities or hold you back.
Guide for Gen Z Job Seekers


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Taking Ownership of Your Online Image

Similar to a mirror reflecting your looks, your online presence reflects your character, lifestyle, and decisions. Social media has empowered us to connect, share, and express ourselves, but it has also made our personal information more accessible. Employers are aware of this and often use digital platforms to learn more about candidates beyond their resumes.

Your online image is under your control, a space where you can showcase your interests, abilities, and professionalism. It’s a canvas where you create a story that mirrors both your authentic self and your professional ambitions.

Why Employers Look Beyond the Resume

To minimize the risks of hiring, employers aim to be thorough in their evaluations. Making the wrong hiring choice can be a costly mistake, so they’re keen to explore every possible avenue before making a decision. In today’s world, they know that a resume isn’t the full picture. Your digital presence provides insights into your abilities, how you communicate, and any potential concerns. Ultimately, they’re looking to see if you’re the right puzzle piece for their team.

But, is it Legal?

Can employers really check your online presence before hiring you? In most cases, the answer is yes. While it might feel like an intrusion, what you share publicly on social media is generally considered fair game during the hiring process. Legally, employers have the right to consider publicly available information like your posts, comments, photos, and interactions.

However, it’s crucial for employers to be fair and unbiased when making hiring decisions based on online content. There are strict laws in place to prevent them from considering personal details like race, religion, or political views during the hiring process.

As a job seeker, it’s wise to assume that your online presence might be under scrutiny and to take proactive steps to ensure it reflects your best self professionally. Though it can be unsettling to know that your virtual life is being observed, maintaining a clean digital footprint is an opportunity to showcase the most positive aspects of who you are.

Avoiding Red Flags and Crafting a Winning Profile

Being mindful of what you share online is key. Certain things you post might raise concerns for potential employers. Recognizing and dealing with these concerns can boost your chances of showcasing a positive and attractive digital image.

What to Watch Out For

Different employers, industries, and roles might have varying red flags. Nonetheless, some common ones that could deter employers include:

  • Inappropriate Content: Posts, comments, or images that are offensive or provocative can quickly damage your chances. Even private posts might become public.
  • Negative Talk: Consistently criticizing former employers, colleagues, or clients could suggest a lack of professionalism and potential for conflicts.
  • Unreliable Behavior: Regularly being absent or showcasing excessive partying might indicate a lack of commitment and discipline to potential employers.
  • Inaccurate Information: Falsely claiming qualifications or achievements can swiftly undermine your credibility.
  • Poor Communication Skills: Using too much slang, profanity, or having poor grammar in your online interactions could raise doubts about your written communication abilities.

Do this Instead

Building a positive digital footprint goes beyond avoiding pitfalls. It’s about presenting yourself in a favorable light and using your online presence to your advantage. Here are some tips:

  • Professional Image: Use a recent, professional profile picture and ensure your handle and bio reflect a positive image.
  • Showcase Achievements: Share certifications and milestones in your field to demonstrate your dedication and expertise.
  • Thoughtful Engagement: Join discussions and share content related to your industry to showcase your knowledge and passion.
  • Strategic Networking: Connect with professionals and companies in your field to stay updated on industry trends and build a network.
  • Balance Personal and Professional: Share your interests while maintaining a professional tone to make your profile more relatable.
  • Optimize LinkedIn: Keep your LinkedIn profile updated, highlighting your skills and experiences to create a strong professional image.
  • Monitor Your Content: Before posting, consider if you’d be comfortable showing it to a potential employer. Remove anything that could be seen as offensive or unprofessional.
  • Manage Tags: Regularly monitor tags from friends and remove anything that doesn’t align with your desired online image.
  • Google Yourself: Search your name on Google to see what employers might find. This gives you an idea of your online presence and what might need tweaking.


Always keep in mind that your digital footprint speaks volumes about you, and employers might take it into account when assessing your suitability. By crafting a positive and polished online image, you increase the likelihood of making a lasting impression that aligns with your career ambitions.

Investing energy in managing a pristine digital presence can open doors to exciting job prospects and pave the way for a successful professional path. As you dive into your job hunt, spare a moment to spruce up your online presence and make a stellar first impression in the virtual realm. Your future self will appreciate the effort.

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