Managing your Social Media Footprint in the Digital Age

In an ever competitive job market, your online presence is becoming an important part of the interviewing process. Employers aren’t necessarily trying to “dig up dirt” on you as much as they are trying to make sure you’re the right fit for the company. Dan Schawbel, author of “Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success,” told MSN News, “Over 90 percent of recruiters use social networks to review candidates’ backgrounds.”  It goes to show just how important your online reputation is. Follow these easy steps to make sure you’re marketing yourself correctly:

Photo by: Search Engine People Blog

Photo by: Search Engine People Blog

Google Yourself
Start out looking at what employers would see if they searched you. Google, Bing, Facebook, etc. search your name. It will give you a good feel for what kind of digital footprint you’re leaving behind, whether it be positive or negative. If you can’t find you, then chances are recruiters are going to have a tough time too. However, that’s not necessarily a good thing; you want to be found in search results, for positive reasons of course. Searching yourself will give you a look at how much work you have ahead of you to clean up your image and make yourself more searchable for all the right reasons.

Clean It Up
Delete inactive social media profiles. There’s probably no reason to keep that Myspace from middle school, completely stocked full with embarrassing pictures. Once you determine what profiles you want to keep, and you realize they aren’t as professional as you’d like them to be, you might have your hands full. One useful (and free) tool students can use is SimpleWash. This application looks through your Facebook and Twitter and shows you everything from photos, to things you’ve liked or tweeted that have questionable content. You can also search specific words for the app to scan through. After it finds everything, you can sift through and delete things you don’t want employers to see.

Facebook Privacy Settings
They may be a pain, but they are important to keep up-to-date on so what you don’t want people to see, stays private. Facebook’s Privacy Settings are often changing, so you need to keep up with it. There are a lot of handy features to manage your profile. One of my favorites, Timeline Review, allows you to approve or hide tagged photos or posts before they are seen on your timeline. Gone are the days where you have to worry about quickly untagging yourself from an unprofessional (or just flat out unattractive) photo your friend posted from a night out. If there is anything questionable, you have have the ability to decide what can be seen.

Twitter
There are a lot of ways you can use Twitter, however some of them are better than others when it comes to getting a job. It might seem funny to tweet from the bar, but it won’t seem that funny when you can’t find a job after graduation. If you lack the self-control that so many college kids do, consider protecting your tweets. People will request to follow you, giving you the control over who sees your tweets. If you have your tweets public, remember who your audience is. Have an objective and make sure your tweeting relevant information.

Be Smart and Think Before You Post
Once it’s on the internet, it’s out there for good. Don’t post something if you are unsure of how it may be received by the public. Try to stay away from anything controversial. You don’t know the beliefs and values of recruiters who may be looking at your profile, so don’t say anything that could potentially offend them. Refrain from posting about politics, religion or anything illegal. “Posting while emotional” is another trap some fall into. We all say things we regret when angry or upset, but don’t share it with your entire online community.

Manage Your Friends and Followers
We’ve all heard it before, but don’t accept friend or follower requests from people you don’t know. Know who you are connected to and what you’re sharing with them. You can classify your friends into groups and share content that is specifically for them. As you get older, you might want to go through and manage your friends and followers to make sure they’re still relevant connections.

It’s important to keep yourself professional, but that doesn’t mean you need to sound like a robot in the process. Be yourself! Employers want to see your personality and the positive accomplishments you’ve had. Sprucing up your social media profiles may seem like a daunting task, and it may take you a few days to look through all those pictures from your college years, but it will be well worth it when your profiles are recruiter ready.

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