Hi, it’s Susan McLean, and today’s topic is digital reputation. Digital reputation is very important for everyone, not just young people. Because what we know is whenever an opportunity comes along that you apply for and someone has to choose you, they will go online to see what they can find.
If you are growing up now, obviously your digital footprint is going to be greater than that of your parents and subsequently, their digital footprint will be less than their parents. Technology is here to stay and everyone will have a digital footprint.
But it’s what does that digital footprint tell us about you that may either allow you to have an opportunity in the future or sadly, cause you to miss out. If you miss out on an opportunity because you’re not the best qualified, well, that’s just life. But if you miss out because someone looked you up online and didn’t like what they saw without any context, well, that’s really unfair. And whilst it’s unfair, it’s also very real.
I’m often paid by AFL recruiters to write digital reputation reports on prospective players. These are talented footballers without a shadow of a doubt. But what the clubs want to know is what are they really like? What do they do online? Where do they go? What accounts do they have? Who do they hang out with? And we’re seeing this used more and more.
Many of your children will go to university or further study. I can remember where my son was at university, he applied for a scholarship to study overseas, and part of the criteria for being chosen, as well as the normal things, such as references and academic transcripts, was the fact that they looked him up online and liked what they saw.
Sadly, many children arrive at school with a ready-made digital footprint, courtesy of an oversharing parent. It’s called sharenting. And whilst we all want to celebrate those milestones of our babies, an 18 year old that’s sitting down for a job interview most certainly does not want to find his toilet training failure photos splashed across the Internet for everyone to find.
So if you’ve got younger children, please keep taking those photos of them. But be mindful about what you’re doing with them and where you’re sharing them. Limit your audience, and most definitely do not share them in the solely public domain. Make sure that you’re using security settings and privacy settings on the platforms that you’re choosing to use.
What do people look for when they’re doing digital reputation searches? Well, there are now artificial intelligence programs that will do this, magically press a button and they will just reach into the tentacles of the Internet and gather all the data without much effort.
And then there’s the old fashioned way where you sit there and you troll through Google, Google Images, social media sites to see what you can find.
One of the easiest things you can do to protect yourself is have a sensible email address because an email address is a first impression. Everything you that you want in life, you’re going to apply for you will apply electronically. So what do you want that recruiters first impression of you to be?
Here’s some email addresses that have come my way. Big tits at Hotmail. That was a teacher at a school in Melbourne, applied for a job with that email address. She didn’t want to use her school email because she didn’t want the school to know she was applying for a job elsewhere.
Sadly for her, the school didn’t have any vacancies for her special set of skills. Sexy jexy, hot groovy chick sexy babe at Hotmail. Very common for young girls that think that being sexy and flirty is fabulous and there’s nothing wrong with that. But your email address is a window to you.
Be mindful of nicknames. Be mindful of sexy, flirty. I had an email from a dad in Perth wanting some help with his 15 year old son. That email address in my inbox was bigdick46@gmail. I guessed his name must have been Richard and he was very tall. So be mindful of your email addresses.
I did a talk for an international recruiting agency in Melbourne that gave me the following statistics. They had to recruit 6000 workers for a job in Asia. Twenty four thousand people applied for those jobs. Nineteen point five per cent of applications weren’t opened, not because the person was no good, not because the person was not qualified, but because they had a stupid email address. They were wiped automatically.
Sit down with your child if they have an email address. Check it out. Make sure it’s bland and uninteresting.
Don’t panic about the fact that they have their name in an email. A lot of parents do. I know this. Because when your child applies for something, they can’t give the person their name. So a name and an email address is not a concern. What I’m more concerned about is years of birth, because that will either tell me that you are very young or very old, which could work against you.
Be mindful of your profile pictures on social media, the best profile pictures, are identifying, because what you think might be a nice photo, someone else might look at in a very judgmental way. They might make a comment to themselves of psychopathic eyes or that person looks creepy or unreliable. It is very unfair, but it is happening. So the best photos to put up there are Fluffy the cat and sunset at the beach, something that doesn’t identify you, because if they haven’t seen a photo of you, they can’t use that to judge you.
Make sure that you know what you’re linking yourself to. What have you liked? Where are you hanging out? What sort of conclusions can I draw? By the people that follow your account, the accounts that you followed. I accept that it’s perception. It’s an opinion and it can be very judgmental. But it happens. So if it happens and you can prevent it, then that is the best option.
I don’t particularly care what people are associated with. I don’t even have to like it. But what I look for is making sure that when I link you to something, whatever that something is, it’s respectful and it’s responsible and it’s legal. And they’re my top three. As a parent regularly Google yourself, see what’s out there. It will show you a little bit about how the Internet works, what it gathers, how it gathers and for your children Google them at least twice a year to see what you can find.
Now, realistically, a lot of the content you find will come from school newsletters and from sporting club newsletters, and they’re not a problem. But if you find a range of photos perhaps taken at your daughter’s dance academy and you know that you didn’t give consent for those photos to be taken and shared, at least you can stop the teacher or someone at that dance studio, for example, continuing to take those photos.
Being aware of what is out there is the first step in protecting your digital reputation.
Take care and thanks a lot.