The internet doesn’t forget

Published: April 22, 2022

The internet does not forget

In a career workshop, I shed light on what traces we leave on the internet. I’m sharing an article about an applicant whose application phase was overshadowed by his dazzling Facebook profile: drugs, corona parties and fast-changing non-Platonic acquaintances. Sabine takes a breath after a fit of laughter: “Always funny to read something like that, but nobody’s that stupid, right?”

“I know enough cases of educated people who have acted in a similarly naive way,” I reply. For example, a former colleague called in sick, went to a music festival and posted his exploits on Instagram. This breach of trust led to a termination without notice.

The internet influences our real life.

“What are the less obvious pitfalls even for thoughtful internet users?” I ask in the round. It takes a while, but then Eduardo tells about a former colleague who wanted to get into science journalism. In the second year of her PhD, she attended a conference for which she had to submit an abstract to get a spot- just a pro-forma exercise she thought. Since she didn’t have a lot of time, she frantically copied a few sentences together. To her horror, she saw a printout of just that abstract on the table in her first interview. Without thinking about it, she left a work sample by submitting her conference application.

Outdated profiles on social media or databases not only look bad for job seekers, they can also cause you to be perceived as inconsistent. Statements in the cover letter like: “I would like nothing more than to start my patent attorney apprenticeship with you” does not fit the “love for field research”, the same applicant had expressed a year earlier.

It can be just as inconvenient if you cannot be found at all on the internet – for example, when you apply for positions in PR or marketing departments. Your “high intrinsic interest in modern forms of communication” loses credibility as a result.

Modern communication and self-marketing channels are neither good nor bad; use them deliberately and with common sense.


Originally published in Nachrichten aus der Chemie (01-2022). See the German original here. 

Interested to learn more about the digital trace you´re leaving and how you can make the best use of your social media profiles? You might be interesteds in our talk LinkedIn for scientists.

You can also check our Soundcloud channel, where we have Social media for scientists playlist

Scroll to Top