Career Development Social Media

Don’t Post That: Time to Clean Up Your Online Image

Your resume gives potential employers a portrait of your professional experience. Your social media and online presence gives them another image altogether. Nearly 40 percent of employers, or two out of every five companies, do additional research on candidates using social media, according to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder. The survey included 2,100 hiring managers and human resources professionals, 43 percent of whom said they wouldn’t hire someone based on what they found on a social media profile. Now that you’re applying for your first real job, it’s time to take a peek at your online presence and clean things up.

Tighten Up Privacy

Double and triple check your privacy settings on any social media network you use. On Twitter, for example, you can choose to protect your tweets, so that only the people you choose can see them. Keep in mind that deciding to shield your future tweets from the public won’t protect any tweets you’ve already made, as the Twitter settings explain. If you’ve already posted embarrassing or potentially harmful stuff, like a photo of you doing a keg stand or a grumpy tweet criticizing a teacher or past supervisor, your best option is to take it down ASAP.

Managing your privacy on Facebook can get a little complicated. You can choose to have only those on your list of friends see the statuses and pictures you post. However, if anyone else is tagged in a picture you post, that person’s friends can also see that picture. The same is true if you post something illicit on someone else’s timeline. If that person doesn’t have tight privacy settings, anyone can see it.

Go to the Pros

You don’t have to be super tech savvy to fix up your online image. If a Google search reveals details about yourself that you’d rather not see or if you have a lot of baggage on your social media profiles, a company such as can help you clean up your online appearance. Professional reputation management isn’t just for big companies or famous people. Keep in mind that most online reputation management companies can’t remove the bad stuff about you online, as NPR notes. What they can do is add positive details to the web to draw attention away from those frat party pictures or unflattering comments you made on that blog post.

Make a Clean Sweep

While the pros can’t erase your embarrassing photos, you can. Re-evaluate any pictures you’ve posted on Facebook, Twitter, or an online photo album, such as Flickr or Picasa, and review comments you’ve made on blogs or social media. If your posts or pictures feature drinking, drugs, or could be considered offensive by anyone, take them down.

However, it’s not enough just to take down your own pictures or remove your own embarrassing comments. The CareerBuilder survey also recommends keeping tabs on what your online friends are writing or posting about you. Untag yourself from any inappropriate Facebook pictures or posts written by others.

Know the Laws

If you’ve made online mistakes in the past, it can be hard to give yourself a clean slate. For example, once you post a picture online, it can take on a life of its own, as those who see it can copy it or download it, then pass it on. Certain laws offer you some protection, though. For example, some states have laws that prohibit employers or potential employers from asking for your user names and passwords to social media, according to If you are extra careful about what and where you post online, those things you expect to be private should remain relatively private.


This is a guest post from Holly Collier.  Holly is a digital marketing consultant for small businesses.

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