Cleaning Up Your Social Media Act

February 18, 2014

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It’s been said before and it will be said again…and again…and again. And then it will be said one more time:

Clean up your social media channels!

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. They are all being checked by potential employers.

“Organizations are absolutely doing online searches and considering what they find in job offer decisions,” says associate professor Marilyn Prosch, who researches online privacy at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business in Tempe.

She says that as many as half of all employers nationwide report checking an applicant’s social media profile. And more to the point, there’s now a growing industry of firms to help people clean up their online profiles. It’s that serious. So let’s take a look at some ways you can make sure your social media channels work for you and not against you.

Employers Googling You

Google Yourself

It’s important to see what kind of online reputation you have, if you even have one.

“Put yourself in the shoes of a potential recruiter, and Google yourself,” says Todd William, CEO of Reputation Rhino, an online reputation management company in New York. “But remember, some people use other search engines like Bing and Yahoo, and the results can be a little different. So make sure you use all three.”

This doesn’t mean you need to IRS yourself and do an exhaustive search. The majority of people won’t go past the first page so don’t worry about going beyond that either. However, if you’re aware of any piece of negative content that might be out there, you should try to have it removed, even if it is buried somewhere on page five.

Keeping it Cleanonline-identity-in-job-searching

Like the title of this topic says, make sure your social channels are clean. It may come as a no-brainer but you’d be surprised what a potential employer might find out about you. If you posted content on Twitter and Facebook that might be offensive or provocative, remove it. It’s easy and only takes a second. Likewise, if there’s an offending comment made by someone else, delete that as well.  But just remember, Twitter and Facebook aren’t the only sites you should check, they are just the most common. Photo sharing sites such as Flickr, Instagram and Pinterest, as well as video sharing sites such as YouTube and Vine, may all contain embarrassing or unflattering content about you. Make sure you do a sweep of every social network you have an account on.

It’s also a good idea to be mindful what places and events you check in to, either on Facebook or Foursquare.

Watch Those Privacy Settings

Every social media site has privacy settings, and recruiters advise using those settings to organize your contacts onto separate lists. But don’t go overboard.

“Employers want to find you online,” says Jim Ernst, owner of Greenlight Public Relations in San Diego. “The only thing that a private profile tells an employer is that you are hiding something. Be open and honest, and let them get a glimpse at who they are hiring.”

In other words, be private but not too private. If an employer can’t find you online, that’s not a good sign. Don’t be Digital Batman.

Do You Blog?…blogging-to-make-yourself-attractive-to-employers

…and is it relevant to your career goals? If you have a regular blog, (and REGULAR is key–even if it’s just once per month) and it’s thoughtful, engaging, and illustrates your interest and commitment to a field, it will come up in searches, especially if you optimize it. If you don’t blog, start one. Having a unique and regular “column” online shows an employer you are a serious player.

Social media is as ubiquitous as air nowadays. As a result, you never know who is viewing your profiles or what might be out there about you. Do your research, because they’ll be doing theirs. So…how well do you google?

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