Preparing for the Job Search: Cleaning Up Your Online Presence

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As many college students around the country graduate and prepare to enter the real working world, now is the perfect time to think about cleaning up your online presence. Why? Simply put, your social media profiles represent your own personal brand—in the digital world.

Your online reputation is becoming increasingly important in the job search process. In fact, 91 percent of hiring managers have reported screening potential candidates using social media. Even more important, 69 percent of hiring managers have rejected applicants because of what they saw of the candidate on social media. Some of the troubling content hiring managers have found online includes inappropriate photos or comments, and lying about qualifications. It is best to clean up your online image sooner rather than later, as 74% of hiring managers look at social media early in the hiring process.

But it isn’t all bad news—68 percent of hiring managers have hired someone because of their online presence. What does this all mean for the recent college graduate? Now is the perfect time to take a close look at your online presence. Here are five tips to help you clean up your digital footprint.

  1. Find yourself: Do not be afraid to regularly Google yourself so you can be sure of what a potential employer would see if they were to do the same. In addition to searching for yourself, be sure to look through your profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., and plan to delete anything that could damage your reputation.
  2. Remember that your posts are public: If you share anything on the Internet, your best bet is to assume that anyone, anywhere can see it. Before sharing content online, whether a status, update, tweet or photo, ask yourself if you would be comfortable sharing the content with an employer or client. If the answer is no, you may want to consider not publishing it. Finally, never post inappropriate or unprofessional material, including anything containing profanity or complaints about a boss or coworkers.
  3. Adjust your privacy settings: Popular social media sites, such as Facebook, are regularly changing their privacy policies outlining what personal information can and cannot be shared. It’s important to take time to read and fully understand privacy options for the different social networks you may be on. Facebook provides an overview of its different privacy settings and options here.
  4. Join LinkedIn: LinkedIn often appears first in a personal search engine query, and it is one of the first places prospective employers will look to find information about candidates. It is critical to have a comprehensive and professional LinkedIn profile. Use your LinkedIn profile as a living, digital resume. Update it often with your professional achievements and accomplishments. LinkedIn provides recent college graduates the opportunity to present yourself professionally, while networking with other people in your field.
  5. Engage! There are online communities available for just about every industry, interest and career. Plan on using social media and the online world to highlight your interests and talents. Whether creating or contributing to a blog, uploading photos or commenting on an article written by a leader in your industry, it is important to be engaged!  

Cleaning up your online presence in preparation for searching for a job does not need to be a daunting task. Use these tips to regularly review and update your personal online brand. Having a strong high-speed internet connection will help with this process.