Cleaning up your social media for job search


Like it or not, many potential employers will be googling you before you are called in for an interview. Depending on the job for which you are applying, your lack of a social media profile could affect you negatively as well; a recent survey released by CareerBuilder, more than 41 percent of employers say they are less likely to interview job candidates if they are unable to find information about that person online.

So, however dishonest this may seem, the goal is to have a well-managed, professional yet not entirely impersonal social media presence. If you feel you cannot delete your questionable items consider changing your social account names if you are currently using your actual name there, and starting new accounts under your name. Remember that it’s always contextual: it really depends on the field of work you’re trying to enter, so keep that in mind.

Here are some tips on how to do this.

0. Start with your email address. Does it seem professional? For example, let’s say your name is Roberta Jessica Miller, whereas might be okay for family and friends, would work best as a professional email address.  If not, create a new one specific to job applications and if you don’t want to be checking an extra email address, simply have your new email address forward all emails to your regular address- here’s how, via gmail. Be careful NOT to reply to the employer from your regular email as then they will see your email address. See point #8 below regarding cleaning up your social media URLs.

1. Make a hit list. Know what message and person you hope to project and start editing from there. Review everything about your profiles from your bio to the kinds of movies and books you read, to the groups you belong to.


  • Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos, or posts
  • Posts or photos that include drinking or using drugs
  • Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc.
  • Content that complains about a previous employer or colleague
  • Posts that are overly cynical, grumpy, or mean

Consider keeping or adding to:

  • Profile information that reflects integrity and responsibility
  • Content that projects a professional image
  • Content that shows a friendly, positive personality
  • Content that shows you to be well-rounded, with wide range of interests
  • Content that shows you have great communication skills

2. Think like the decision maker. Put yourself in the position of the person whose job it is to recruit or hire qualified people who also show they are responsible online: When in doubt, take it out. Or, use The Granny Rule: If you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see your post, then delete it. (Again, if you feel strongly about publishing unconventional or risky content then create a separate, locked account on Instagram or another platform).

3. Streamline your selfies. Too many photos of yourself could come across to a decision maker as immature or narcissistic.

4. Review past blogs. If you have a personal blog, re-read and analyze your content. While many employers consider blogging a plus, your tone, attitude, and interaction with others online will tell the larger picture of who you are as a person.

5. Google yourself. Sounds simple but this is where he Admissions Officer or employer will start. If you find negative content such as your name on blogs or blog comments, negative Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, or Twitter posts, or if you are tagged in any risky content, address the issue immediately. If you can delete, then delete. If you have to ask someone else to delete an inappropriate photo of you, then be persistent. While you are at it, change our privacy settings to prohibit tagging without your permission.

6. Inventory all social profiles. Choose the content you make public carefully so that a decision maker will be able to see only what you want them to see. Be sure to edit your About Page or Profile blurbs accordingly. Remove any movies, books, or affiliated groups that might reflect poorly on you.

7. Edit your Twitter feed.  While it feels good (and harmless) at the time, the true impact of Twitter’s short, fast-moving blurbs can be deceptive. Tweets go viral quickly. And tweets can ruin lives if they are reckless. If you don’t want to make your feed private, be sure to remove any tweets that may be scrutinized such as racist, mean, arrogant, judgmental, sexual or crude. Also, go through your “following” and “followers” lists and sanitize. Don’t forget to cleanse your Tumblr, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, and Instagram accounts as well.

8. Secure Names and URLs. Cleaning up your online persona includes making sure your Twitter handle, Facebook name, and URL do not include profanity or slang. Be sure to check your name’s URL  (i.e.: and if no one else owns it, buy it. The last thing you need is an admissions officer or employer going to your site and being shocked by an adult film star who shares your same name. URL real estate is valuable (especially yours!) so if you don’t own your name, buy it via the many domain vendors.

9. Change your online persona—for good. It’s never too late to turn your online conversations around—not only to influence decision makers — but also the rest of the professional world, of which you are now a part. Be sure to pepper your Twitter feed with some positive, useful content that reflects the person you aspire to be.

10. Start a career-focused Blog. Self-publishing a blog is an excellent tool if you are serious about putting yourself in the best light for college admissions or future jobs and a savvy way to control what information comes up first when others Google you. Remember, fresh content moves up on Google so blogging can help your personal brand and online persona immensely. You can start a no-cost blog at Blogger, Weebly, or WordPress and put the blog address on your application and invite admissions officers or employers to visit. Write blog posts that show off your strengths. Discuss your goals, academics, aspirations, and anything else that reflects your abilities and who you are as a person. Be sure to share your blog posts on Twitter or other feeds.

Based on article by Toni Birdsong  at 

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