Wednesday, June 5, 2019

5 Ways to Clean Up Your Social Media Presence

When you're job searching, the advice is to "clean up your social media presence."

But what does that mean, exactly?

For example, when you were told to clean up your room as a kid, my hunch is that your version of "clean" was a lot different than your mom's. So, what you consider offensive online today may be a whole lot different than what will raise a red flag with a hiring manager.

To make sure that you really scrub out the questionable stuff from your online activities:

1. Stay away from politics. Unless you're applying for a job with a political organization, no employer wants to hire someone with opinions that could be divisive in the workplace. Stay away from even re-tweeting political opinions or posting a story from political commentators on Facebook. Delete those comments or posts.

2. You're known by the company you keep. Maybe you don't post controversial opinions yourself, but you are connected to a whole lot of people who do. Maybe you have strong opinions on immigration, and you are connected via Twitter and Facebook and even LinkedIn as you show up at rallies to support their causes. If you're tagged in photos, ask to be removed. Take them off Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn and reconsider some of your connections.

3. Use the granny rule. No, grandma really doesn't need to see your drunken college photos, your profanity-laced blog post or your sexually-explicit photos on Instagram. Neither does a potential employer. Either change your privacy settings or delete questionable content such as any photo that shows you with a drink in your hand, in a swimsuit or content with more than one swear word.

4. Layer the good over the bad. Now is the time to start putting more positive and helpful content under your name. Post blog content that offers helpful hints or insights about your industry. Post links to industry-appropriate articles on Twitter and share well-written content on Facebook. If you've got nothing but a bunch of duck-lipped selfies on Instagram, try posting photos of others you meet with some inspiring stories. ("This woman became an entrepreneur at 18. Her name is....")

5. Get rid of dumb handles. No, you do not need to be known as "sexymama" or "passoutdrunk" or "f*ckyou" on Twitter or anywhere else. Adopt handles that are either your name, or some version of it. Don't make it complicated -- try to use something that will support your brand.

Finally, if undertaking any of this is a huge chore, then you know you need to make some permanent changes. Since nothing online is ever really private, you need to realize that despite your best efforts to clean things up, an employer still may find content or photos that harm your professional reputation. Be more intentional about anything you put online and always consider whether it will stand the test of time and reflect well on you five years down the line.

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