5 Steps to Cleaning up your Online Identity

Posted June 05, 2012

Did you know that every time you tweet the deets or update your status on Facebook your brain gives you a tiny blast of euphoria?

Social media sites are “brain candy,” according to a recent LA Times story, and sharing information produces the same sensation of pleasure that comes with eating food, receiving money and having sex, though to a lesser degree, scientists found.

So it’s official. People, by nature, love talking about themselves.  We’re just wired that way.

But if you’re searching for new job opportunities, any public displays of self-indulgence should be tactful. Many recruiters and hiring managers are combing the web for dirt on applicants. Give them something hirable to look at. Take some time to clean up your online identity and reinvent one that says Hello, I’d be a great addition to your team.

Here’s how you should start:

1. Steer Clear of Employer Turnoffs

It’s fairly common sense. Don’t post anything that would embarrass your future boss: swearing, racist slurs, cleavage, pictures from raging parties. In fact, Frances Cole Jones, author of How to Wow: Proven Strategies for Selling Your (Brilliant) Self, goes as far as to suggest that you should take down 80 percent of your pictures.

“If you have that much time to spend online managing your social media,” she says, “you don’t seem like you really want a job.”

Instead, use the web to show employers that you’re good at your job and you’d be a great fit for the company culture — not how much you are obsessed with your pets (no matter how adorable your cat might be).

Google also has a “me on the web” feature in your Google account dashboard. Check it out—it helps you track your name on the web and blow any unwanted content into smithereens!

[‘Drinkin’ Photos on Facebook Cost Man Disability Benefits]

2. If a job seeker doesn’t show up in Google, does he exist?

No, according to Jones. She says that “candidates who don’t have any online presence are just as troubling” as those with inappropriate posts.

So, if nothing comes up when you Google your name, at the very least create a LinkedIn profile … STAT! More on what you can do to create awesome search results on No. 5.

3. Make your Facebook Top-Secret in 3 Steps

Employers’ go-to scouting site is none other than Facebook, according to this great infographic put together by Online Colleges.  Facebook is actually neck-and-neck with LinkedIn –  65 percent use Facebook the most and 63 percent mostly look at LinkedIn. Here’s how to make your Facebook incognito:

Step 1:  Take a scroll down memory lane on your Facebook Timeline and make sure none of your super old posts from back in the day are public. The best way to do this is to go to your profile and click the down arrow icon in the corner next to “Activity Log” and then click “View As …”

This feature lets you see exactly what your timeline looks to the public. Scroll down to see if there are any embarrassing updates from 2005 that need to be edited or deleted ASAP. That’s the one great thing about the new Facebook Timeline — you can edit history.

Step 2: Go to your Privacy Settings and edit the settings.  Make sure that you limit who can see your stuff and look up your timeline by name, email address or phone number just to your friends.

Step 3: Finally, it’s time to make your Facebook profile unsearchable on the web altogether. In the same section, Facebook asks: "Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?" Make sure you select "Off." (I created this infographic to offer step-by-step directions on taking control of your Facebook privacy).

4. Be Smart about Social Sign ins

Have you noticed how more and more websites are giving you the option to sign in using your Facebook or Twitter login while registering? It’s for those of us who are too lazy to go through that whole registration spiel—some people call it “password fatigue.”

The problem with this is many sites that are seamlessly integrated with Facebook or Twitter, such as Spotify or Like a Coupon, automatically post your updates publicly. If someone important happens to stumble upon your public profile, they might see your guilty pleasures (Carly Rae Jepsen, anyone?)! Make sure you edit the public settings on each new app you use.

5. Start Contributing Smart, Relevant Info about your Specialty

Now that you’ve scrubbed the Internet of all the useless info about you — it’s time to be proactive and add some professional sauciness. Share relevant new articles, write insights and connect with other pros like you to establish a clean, professional presence. These are the best places to do this:

LinkedIn – Create a LinkedIn profile, add people you know and join a bunch of groups that relate to you. Oh, and don’t be creepy about adding connections—send a proper LinkedIn invite.

Blog – Start one. Immerse yourself into what’s being said about your niche right now. Get involved. Jones suggests you buy your domain name and build on that. If you’re feeling lost, check out blog directories like BlogHints.com or BlogHub.com.

Quora – This is another tool to help you showoff whatever credibility you have in your field. It’s basically a giant question-and-answer resource that connects you with other establish experts in any field of interest. Just search for a topic and if you have a question, fire away!

Twitter – Create a professional, public Twitter exclusively about your profession. Use it to share blog entries, other industry news articles, Twitter chats, find other people in your field and much more.

photo of The CareerBliss Team

The CareerBliss Team

CareerBliss cares about your career happiness. That's why we offer a variety of great tools and resources to help you make better-informed career decisions. We believe that if you're happier at work, you'll be happier in life! Check out company reviewssalary informationcareer advice and, of course, millions of jobs on CareerBliss and choose happy today!

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