Cleaning Up Your Social Media Image

Managing your online reputation through social media

The current generation of recent college graduates has been dubbed the “Media Generation” for their frequent use of technology and social networking. By the time graduates hit the job market, young adults have already established a strong presence on social media like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and even MySpace. Recent graduates are not alone, however, in taking advantage of social networks. Today, even returning jobseekers are turning to social media to network, circulate resumés, and find employment.

Sometimes the image created through social media does not jibe with potential future employers. Therefore, you should put as much effort into creating a positive social media image as they do crafting their resumé. Before applying for a position, you should conduct a social media cleanse.

Here are five ways to clean up your social media image:

1. Conduct a Google search of yourself. You may recall an episode of “How I Met Your Mother” where one of the lead characters, Marshall, returned to the job market. Through the interview process, Marshall learned that a college friend had posted a YouTube video of him, heavily intoxicated, running naked through the streets of New York. This is, of course, an extreme (and comedic) scenario, but a simple Google search will reveal any unwanted public information. If you find less than flattering comments, posts, photos, or videos, try to delete them. If that is not possible, send a request to the website author to remove the information. Otherwise, be prepared to explain yourself should the information come to light in an interview.

2. Set all of your profiles to private. Most social media sites have privacy options that allow you to determine what information is made public.  However, many companies have started the controversial practice of specifically asking to see your Facebook page; it is more beneficial to clean up your profiles in advance. LinkedIn,, and other job search websites are, of course, the exception. Not only do you want to keep these sites public, but also maintain your profiles with the most up-to-date information.

3. Choose photos wisely. Photos are frequently public, whether you want them to be or not, so choose your image wisely. And do not forget that your friends may also post photos of you. Be sure to locate images that you are tagged in and request their removal if they are particularly unflattering.

4. Limit your social media footprint. Make conscious decisions about what social medias you want to interact with. If Twitter is not helping you to make the right kinds of connections, delete your account. Thanks to Olympic athletes, we have just recently witnessed how personal Twitter accounts can ruin the reputations (and careers) of public and/or professional figures. And remember, even if you do not have a profile with a service, any negative or positive comment you make on a site will be public information.

5. Be consistent. If you are on several different social networks, make sure that your information is consistent across the board. Make sure you are projecting a singular image of who you are as a professional and what your strengths are as a job candidate.

Of course social networking can be a powerful tool for your job search. Once you have cleansed your social networks, here are 10 smart ways to use social networks to your advantage.



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