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8 ways to create a positive digital footprint

Read PracticeLink articles from Michele Gutermuth.
Michele Gutermuth

Table of Contents

I am on social media for professional purposes. While on Twitter, I often cringe when I see what is posted by medical students, residents and fellows. The cringeworthy posts sometimes start like this:

“Wow, instead of giving me free items for battling the pandemic while in residency, I’d rather earn more money,” or, “Do you think I am really going to treat you like everyone else when you’re yelling at me?”

This reminds me of the many times I have had to make a phone call to some millennial and Generation Z acquaintances and advise them to unlike a post or delete their last tweet. Of course, I would always get the proverbial sigh. The problem, though, is employers really look at this.


Here are eight ways to make a positive digital footprint.

  1. Delete what you did in junior high, high school and undergraduate school. Hopefully, your posts have cleaned up once you got to medical school. If you need your memories, save your account somewhere or pay for it to be placed in a book, but delete it.
  2. Social media can be for personal or business use. It is against the terms of service to not use your correct name, but many people use their first name and their middle name or use their first name and their significant other’s first name as a last name to prevent your personal life and your work life from intertwining.
  3. Set up a VPN. There are free ones, and there are paid ones. You decide. But you don’t need everything you look at, research, pay for and follow being tracked.
  4. Set up and create an email address just for job-searching and keep it your entire career. This way, you can use it when you are in the market for a new job or your first job, but it won’t overwhelm you. Additionally, you won’t burn bridges by writing a heat-of-the-moment response to a potential employer or recruiter who reaches out to your personal inbox. A simple drjohnsmith@<emailproviderofchoice>.com works!
  5. Search for yourself online. Then, make sure information is correct. A search of your name is likely to lead to pages of health care rating sites. While they could contain a negative review, you will want to know why this review happened. Pay attention so you can address them. I have seen employers not hire a physician because they had terrible reviews.  
  6. Never tell a patient story online – even if you need to vent or you find humor in it. This is going to look bad on you in the long run. A potential employer may not find it funny and certainly is not going to see it as professional. Also, be aware that in some cases, depending on what you write, it could violate HIPAA. 
  7. Be thoughtful about some other things that can affect your potential future employment, like distasteful photos, negative comments about past employers, discriminatory remarks or heated political posts. 
  8. Use your digital footprint as a way to market yourself. Prospective employees should always show potential employers they are the best person for the job. Everyone has interests outside of their work, and you can highlight your hobbies or things you have accomplished.


And finally, when in doubt, don’t write it – and don’t share it. Make sure your friends know you don’t want your photos shared either. Start to think about your presence at gatherings. If you like to have too much fun, you may want to reconsider that in this time of sharing everything online. 

Read PracticeLink articles from Michele Gutermuth.

Michele Gutermuth

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