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July 17, 2009
Cleaning Up Your Social Media Closet

Would you wear a dirty, tattered, or mismatched suit to an interview? Of course not! Yet many people allow their social media profiles to be a mess when looking for a job. Maybe they don’t know any better. Don’t let yourself be one of those people!

More likely than not, you will need to clean out your social media closet in order to get it ready for prospective employers to review. Unfortunately, there is no version of the
Container Store online that can help you. So you’ll have to help yourself, and you may need to ask trusted friends and colleagues to help proofread your social media profiles. The list below is a Social Media Closet Clean-up Guide for job seekers at all levels.

There are four simple things you can do to ensure that your social media closet is ready for prime time viewing:

1. Google yourself. Whatever you find is exactly what your prospective employer is going to see. If there is something horribly embarrassing out there, try to eliminate it. If you absolutely cannot get rid of it, try adding your middle name to your profile or resumé so the undesirable results are less likely to pop up when someone searches your name.

2. Go to your LinkedIn profile. Don’t have a LinkedIn account? You should! It is the primary tool recruiters now use to find people for all kinds of white-collar jobs. Post a decent picture of yourself and have someone proofread your bio. Keep it simple and professional—this is not the place for personal stuff. Join some relevant groups to show you know what you are doing, and are industry savvy and connected.

3. Examine your Facebook profile. What’s on there? Who can see it? There are Facebook settings that allow you to control who sees what, so decide if you want everyone to see your information, or if you want to limit it to your friends.

A prospective employer—if they know someone connected to you—may ask them to check your profile out. So keep the politics as neutral as possible, relationship-related drama to a minimum, eliminate any pictures of yourself doing anything embarrassing, and consider whether or not you want a lot of family pictures in the public eye.

On Facebook, job seekers should also reduce the number of goofy quizzes they’ve taken, as people who do a lot of those look like super slackers. And if you really must know which Disney Princess you are, I suggest that you delete the results from your feed once you realize you are really Jasmine!

Be sure to post a decent profile picture. If you’re not comfortable putting a profile picture up, you don’t have to. And if you do, just don’t put anything ridiculous up (instead consider posting a conservative image of your avatar).

4. Got Twitter? Should you get on Twitter if you aren’t already posting there? Definitely! A lot of recruiters are experimenting right now with Twitter as a potential candidate-sourcing tool. And just like with any other social media profile, you should word your bio carefully and choose a good picture.

If you already have a Twitter profile that recruiters can find (by searching your name or because you included a link on your resume), really think about what you’re tweeting about. As with Facebook, you can control who follows you and sees your tweets. Twitter is interesting, and in progressive industries—if you are a good communicator and use the tool effectively—it can make a great impression. However, it can also be a kiss of death if you’re not. So if you’re looking for a job and you use Twitter, delete any inane tweets and start building up educated sounding ones.

It’s Clean Up Time!
Now that you’ve read through these Social Media Closet Cleaning Tips, you can clean up your image and not let your unattended social media profiles reveal a tattered Internet closet. Just follow the above four simple steps and when recruiters find you online, they will find all of your online “suits”—clean, pressed, and interview ready!

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As the leader of Human Resources at Organic, Inc., Tracy Cote directs all programs related to talent acquisition, worldwide benefits and compensation programs, and learning and career development. With over 15 years practicing HR, Tracy shares her experience in her role as adjunct faculty at San Francisco State University. She regularly contributes thought leadership articles to various blogs and publications.

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