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Beyond Deakin: Supporting you into the future

Establishing a professional identity online

Learn to manage social media responsibly and as a professional.  Develop a greater awareness of your own online presence, and an understanding of how information available online can impact your professional identity.

Your online identity

Image: Digital identityIn today’s digitally connected world, it’s easier than ever to find personal information about people. Now is the time to start thinking about the online identity that you would feel comfortable with clients, colleagues, and employers seeing.

Your online presence is a significant component of your professional identity, so it is important that the impression you leave others with is the right one.

Some online profiles rank higher than others in search results. A LinkedIn profile often features high in results lists. Having a potential employer find your LinkedIn profile might be a positive thing (assuming it’s current); having them find your Facebook profile might be less positive, depending on what you’ve got on there. Be mindful that Facebook profiles tend to feature highly in search results, so it’s probably a good idea to set your privacy settings equally high for personal accounts.

There is no right or wrong way to use social media that applies to everyone. You may feel that having no social media account gives you the ultimate control over how you are viewed by others in an online space. Unfortunately this may not always be the case. For example, the top results of an internet search may be for another person with the same name as you, or return outdated pages from previous employment, or community participation, such as sporting events.


Consider creating basic social media accounts under your professional name and having altered names for any personal content heavy ones.

Google and you

Google yourself and find your digital footprint!

Image: FootprintDo a search for your name in an internet browser. Take note of the information you find and consider whether it is up to date and accurately represents the professional image you would like to have.

When searching clear cookies or search history, or even better don’t use your regular internet browser (i.e. don’t use browser with saved search history, or log in with your Google account) as these, as well as cookies and session data can all influence the results of your search.

Be mindful that how you appear to yourself in a search is not necessarily how others will see you because Google knows who you are, and where you are, as well as what you’ve previously searched for and will skew the results. You might even find differences on your own computer, using different browsers or trying different privacy options.

This is often termed a ‘filter bubble’, as we get results for what it is thought we want to see. The problem with this is when you are looking for something outside your usual interests you may not have this returned in your search results.



You can influence what comes up in a Google search of you. Read on to find out how.

Strategies for cleaning up your image

So what can you do to make as positive as possible this ‘digital footprint’ that you (or others on your behalf) have left behind? You can modify or clean up Google search results on your identity.

Some things you can do to clean up your online footprint are:

  • Identify and remove any undesirable content or contact the person who uploaded it and ask them to remove it.
  • Delete old accounts. When you stop using a social networking tool, it’s recommended to delete your account so that the content is no longer available.
  • Regularly review your account privacy settings. You can usually limit what others can see, but be aware that private settings may not always be completely private and can change over time.
  • Before making any comments in an online space, remember that deleting information doesn’t always completely remove it from the internet. Often it is stored on servers somewhere in cyberspace, and theoretically still accessible. It also could be copied, saved, or shared by others prior to being deleted.
  • Create new desirable content that will bump older less appropriate pages further down the results. For example, write a blog on a work related interest that you are passionate about or put together a Flickr account with work appropriate images. 


 Learning activity