People leaning against a wall each using a smartphone

In our digital age, sanitizing your social media presence is becoming just as crucial a step as updating your resume when you’re on a job hunt. So, before you start shopping your name and details around the job market, have a read through our Step-by-Step Guide to Sanitizing Your Social Media Presence.

1. Google Yourself

Research shows that 56% of employers check the social media presence of potential employees. So the first step is to Google yourself and see what they see. Be smart about it, check each account with both your name and email address. Look under the images search, as well as blog and news item searches to get the full picture. You may be surprised at what pops up: Old profiles created for unused blogs or a MySpace page collecting dust! Even if you don’t use these profiles anymore, if you didn’t delete them they will still be floating in cyberspace.

2. Clean Up Your Existing Social Media Profiles

Now that you know what’s out there, it’s time to do some cleaning! The first thing is to review your privacy settings. Facebook allows you to restrict privacy to a minimal level so you can have little or nothing visible to the public. Consider what you want seen on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and any other profile. Make sure all your profile pictures are sanitary – now is not the time for that photo of you partying in Mykonos. Even with privacy setting turned on high, scan through your comments, photos, tags, and check-ins with a “if in doubt, throw it out” mantra.

3. Amp Up Your Professional Online Presence

Now it’s not all doom and gloom. Displaying some social media savvy and having a professional online footprint can make a great impression in your job search. The first thing to update is your LinkedIn profile. Does it reflect the person you are selling in your job search? Add details for related jobs, skills and specialties. You can start building the blocks to establish yourself as a ‘thought leader’ in your area. Share interesting, relevant content on your social media profiles, become active in LinkedIn groups related to your industry and profession. You may even want to consider setting up a blog to further your own professional brand.

4. Bury The Dirt

In your Google search you may have come across some less than desirable content owned by third parties. You should contact the content owners and politely request it be taken down. However, if that’s unsuccessful, it’s time to get out the shovel and bury the dirt! The goal is to push these unfavourable results further down the Google search page listings. You can do this by creating other online activity related to you, such as writing some blog posts, commenting in groups, forums and blogs. You can also sign up for other profiles and directories ZoomInfo.

5. Be Smart In Your Job Search

Now that you’ve cleaned up your social media presence, be smart about it. Look at the ties between what details you’re submitting in your job search and how it will lead back to your online self. Is your email professional? Have you used your full name on social media? Make sure you have a professional email address (no please); and remember it’s perfectly acceptable not to use your full name for social media. Google yourself one last time and make sure all the loose ends have been tied. Now put your best e-foot forward and enjoy social media as a professional. As for personally? Just make sure those privacy settings are switched on!