Why You Need a Strong Online Footprint

For job seekers, the persuasive cover letter and germane resume have long been the way to get a foot in the door, and more recently, HR directors will rummage through Google to make sure nothing negative turns up. But now, the extent to which individuals have established a strong and compelling online presence is having an impact on who gets the interview and job. Actively building a digital footprint that proves presence in a professional community and expertise in the field is increasingly important.

“The idea of curating your digital footprint is right on target because it gets to the heart of the matter, which is that this is a new aspect of our reputation that we have to work at,” says Wharton management professor Nancy Rothbard. “We can’t just assume that it’s good, and we can’t assume that we’re vigilant enough. We have to think about that carefully.”

Monica McGrath, who recently retired as Wharton’s vice dean of executive education and is renewing her consulting practice, says that while professional inquirers tend to look at professional domains like LinkedIn, no one can assume anything online. “I am surprised by the number of people who wanted to be sure I had built a presence on blogs like Huffington Post and other social media outlets. To a number of potential clients and companies it was important to see if in fact I had a voice, whether I was an expert or not, and if my approach was professional and I had something to say,” she notes.

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