How Digital Literacy Will Help Your Professional Career

Oh, by the way, do you know what your digital footprint is?

How Digital Literacy Will Help Your Professional Career

So, you’re an expert now. You can navigate the Internet with ease. You may even have a few social media profiles and are using them to easily expand your network, meeting new people and connecting with future employers.

What could go wrong?

Oh, by the way, do you know what your digital footprint is?

You know, the trail you leave on the Internet. The bread crumbs that lead back to your computer. You’d be surprised to find out how easily people can follow that trail, using your personal information against you.

Some may not be doing it for nefarious reasons, but it’s a good idea to understand the path you chart and the trail you leave.


Because some of the people that follow that trail are doing it to scam you, while others are looking to sell you something, while others will stop you from achieving your goals.


Watch what you share


We’ve spoken before about how potential employers will look at your social media profiles before hiring you. Depending on those privacy settings, you may be giving a potential co-worker or boss information they shouldn’t be privy to. Do they need to know who you drank with in college? Is it pertinent what you spoke about at that hockey game a decade earlier?

The trail you leave can be so visible that people can determine what you have clicked like on Facebook or Twitter. Whether by accident or on purpose, your actions speak louder than words and people may use that against you. It’s important to be mindful of what you’re clicking like on or sharing. Not only is it important that the particular message is true and valid, but the person 
you’re sharing it from needs to be vetted too.

While the optimum thing to do is watch what you share and do, establishing your privacy settings will reduce who can see it. Barring that, there are some companies that will look through your social profiles and scrub questionable material.


Watch what you click


That email may look legitimate, but would your mom really send a funny cat video to you at work? And that website you’re visiting looks really pretty, but is it professional?

Too often, someone will click on a link either on the Internet or through an email and suddenly their world is turned upside down. You could be sending your personal information like passwords to the wrong elements. You could also be downloading viruses to your computer and if that computer is a workstation, it could be compromised. We’ve all heard of hospitals or governments, institutions that have a lot of private information, being hijacked and that info ransomed back to them.

Always check the source of an email. Does it make sense that they would be sending it? Are they sending it from a different email address? For instance, no bank or company will ever ask you to verify your information via text or email.


Everything is connected


Have you ever looked up something online only to find your Facebook feed filled with those things for the following week? Marketers often use your search habits to try to sell things to you. This works through Facebook, Google, and many other platforms we use every day.

Remember this the next time a website asks whether you want to accept cookies or push notifications. Cookies allow websites to track you while push notifications allow them to send information to you whenever they have new content.

This concept carries over to the computers at work. The places you visit are visible to marketers and to employers. NSFW means not suitable for work and shouldn’t be explored on the boss’ computer.


Skills to explore


Your digital literacy isn’t about what you shouldn’t do. There are many things you can explore that are positive and will help you in your professional career. Modern computer technology continues to push the boundaries of our imagination with things like connectivity apps and virtual reality. Our work situations may evolve with these programs so we work remotely, either connecting periodically or virtually so we can address collaborative issues.

Keep abreast of new technologies, at least in theory, by consuming content on blogs and news media. Even though you may not be able to code for a program, it’s good to understand what’s available in your field to make your job easier.

The great thing about soft skills like operating computer technology is that they transfer from one program to the next. Understanding Microsoft Word will help you understand Google Docs so you can work with partners to bring a mutual vision to life.


Always be learning


Continually learning new skills will allow us to excel in the new employment landscape. As with any literacy prospects though, not understanding something isn’t an excuse. The onus is upon us to explore the concepts we don’t understand so we can make ourselves more desirable to new employers.

You’ve got this though. You understand that you need to start small and when you have a shortfall, agencies like ReStart are always available to help with workshops and consultants to help you acquire the knowledge you need.