Your online persona

We‘re all going to find that the permanent digital trail we leave will come back to visit us

It's very easy to forget that what happens online is permanent. Hitting the Delete button just means the questionable content disappears from the screen. But every keystroke of your online activity is being recorded. Permanently.

It's no secret that hiring managers and recruiters are now using social media in all phases of the selection process. And this new digital ‘detective' work isn't new and is becoming increasingly routine.

In 2012, surveyed over 2,300 hiring managers and human resource professionals to ask if, and how often, they incorporate social media into their hiring processes.

Their survey found that 37% of employers use social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ to screen potential job candidates. In other words, almost 40% of companies browse your social media profiles to evaluate what kind of person you are. And some even base their hiring decision on what they find.

"We‘re all going to find that the permanent digital trail we leave will come back to visit us, sometimes in a positive form, but certainly in ways that are both unexpected and unpredictable," said David Bartolo, TAFE Bytes writer and Digital Media teacher at The Northern Sydney Institute. "The digital artefacts of our online presence are permanent, and anything you have ever created online can always be retrieved, even if you think it's been deleted."

David is passionate about the use of appropriate technologies to enhance the learning experience. But he is equally passionate about warning his students, particularly younger people, about the potential perils and pitfalls of their online behaviour.

"Even if you don't record things you are not proud of, maybe your friends will," he said. "You may find yourself betrayed by your friends (tagging you on Facebook), your games (why were you playing Angry Birds at the beach when you were meant to be sick?) or your phone (yes, everything you do on it, including where you are, can be traced and is being permanently stored).

David believes that now is always a good time to begin building your online reputation. And the best part is that it isn't rocket science - it's simply employing some common sense whenever you're online. Things like avoiding making insulting and derogatory remarks about people, thinking carefully about the photos, memes, posts and articles that you upload or share, even your spelling and grammar, all of which can be laid bare for any potential employer to scrutinise.

"The more positive data that is stored about you on the Web, the less that negative data will impact your image," said David. "Try to create both professional and personal profiles on any social media, and don't let them cross over."