Digital Footprint - the new CV?

We are well in the digital age and most of us are still reviewing candidates based on traditional CVs. More recently there has been an increase in publications around using a digital footprint instead of CVs. So is it all just a bit of a hype or a game changer?

How it works – in theory

In theory, all of us leave digital footprints across the internet, constantly. On the one hand, there are the very obvious trails on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and so on. Additionally, we leave trials on university websites, corporate websites, corporate social media feeds, corporate advertisement campaigns, event websites, club websites and much more.

One could argue that you could compile these data points and combine them in a new type of CV. Indeed, this could lead to a more comprehensive picture of a candidate and with some luck you will also find some qualitative data. This could be customer ratings, references and other feedback related information.

Practically there are a number of obvious concerns such as how to ensure you identify all relevant data and to ensure all data identified is actually about the specific candidate and not somebody else with same or similar data (think about John Smith).

Is the data more reliable than a CV?

The answer is no, unfortunately. One could argue that the combination of all traces on the internet will give an honest picture as inconsistency will show clearly. From my point of view, that does not match reality. There is no quality control for data entered in places such as LinkedIn and we all know – if clever enough – anyone can portray themselves to be who they want online. Also, with increasing legislation around how people must have the right to delete (make the internet forget) data, the picture will be less and less comprehensive.

As a conclusion, using online data might give you a more rounded picture, it equally might miss very important points and it can be as truthful or untruthful as a traditional CV.

Diversity

Diversity is the main concern when considering to switch to Digital Footprints. Our online presence delivers all information needed to discriminate. Very often our gender, race, sexual orientation, (political) views, religion are easily revealed with a simple search. Also data from our private lives – which should in most cases be irrelevant for an employment decision – is easily available.

Unconscious bias

With all this information available it will be very hard to impossible to ensure one is not trapped in unconscious bias. You know how difficult it is eliminated unconscious bias just knowing age, gender, race and educational background. Just imagine how much harder this will be if you also know hobbies, religion, political views, personal pictures, family background and so on.

Is this all just hot talk?

There are lots of considerations to take into account, the practicality of digital footprinting seems an unlikely hot new trend, at least not anytime in the near future. First of all, the technology needed to extract the right data for the right person in the right format across endless (often unstructured) sources is complex and the time investment seems to be high. Second of all, there are perhaps already many people who use social media profiles such as from LinkedIn as a CV replacement and call this digital foot-printing, which it really is not. The question is though, who do you want to hire? If an online presence is important for the job (such as social media specialists) then this might be a good source. If we are talking about a high profile role and you want to ensure the candidate has no hidden past that could jeopardise their credibility or damage a company’s reputation in future, this might be a valuable tool, too. For everybody else, a standard CV or a LinkedIn profile is as much as you need and which you will sure up with traditional verbal referencing. The rest is additional information which may or may not be reliable and the reality is, you may never know.

Guide: 5 Steps to a Digital Footprint

Regardless of my opinion on the topic, I have put some thought into what would be the best way to go about creating one and have identified five crucial steps for developing a digital footprint. I have compiled a detailed 5 step guide which you will receive when yu fill out the form below.

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