Posted in Career Best Practices
Re-tweeting others' political rants.
Adding late-night party pics to your Instagram story.
Sharing ridiculous memes on Facebook.
We get it – these are fun things to do. And you certainly have the right to post, tweet, upload and share whatever you like!
But if you think that all you need to do to protect yourself during your job hunt is make your social media accounts inaccessible to outsiders, think again. "Locking down" your accounts may seem like a simple solution, but it can actually send the wrong message. Namely: I have something to hide.
Now there's a red flag you don't want to raise.
The smarter solution? Set aside a few hours to clean up your social media accounts. Sure, it's more labor-intensive than just flicking a privacy switch. In the long run, however, the process allows you to convey a more transparent, professional "personal brand" – and makes you infinitely more attractive to potential employers. Here's how to spruce up your "digital footprint":
Know what's out there. More than likely, hiring managers will use search engines to learn about your online activities and reputation. Make sure you know what they'll find. Conduct a series of searches to uncover any potential issues:
- Use multiple search engines – Google, Bing!, Yahoo, Ask. Focus on the first three pages of search results for each engine.
- Search several variations of your name – including maiden name (if applicable) and common misspellings.
- Think beyond your name. Search based on pages you've liked, groups you've joined and people, organizations or associations you may be connected with online. If something could be misconstrued or misinterpreted, consider severing the online connection.
Scrub it clean. Once you know what's out there, clean up any unwanted "data spills," eliminating what you don't want employers to see:
- Delete old profiles or inappropriate pictures.
- Remove questionable comments, posts or tweets.
- Verify correct contact information on each of the social sites you use.
- If you can't personally delete content, reach out to the person who posted it or the site administrator to see what your removal options are.
Be smart about privacy settings. While you don't want to completely "lock down" your social media accounts, it does make sense to create groups for sharing content. Facebook, for example, provides step-by-step instructions for selecting exactly whom you'd like to share posts with.
Keep it real. No, you shouldn't delete EVERYTHING – having no digital footprint can create as many concerns as having one that's cluttered with silly dog memes. Take a common-sense approach moving forward, refreshing your profiles and adding content that keeps you visible (in a good way) on a hiring manager's radar.
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