When you post something online, how much thought do you put behind it before you click? We reveal more and more information about ourselves without even realising it. By right, you shouldn't have to worry too much about this, but you don't know who is going to check your profile out and their reasons for doing so.
Unfortunately, whether you like it or not, you may as well assume that if it's a potential employer, they are going to check your social media profiles to see what kind of an individual you are. What you want to make sure is the profiles they're looking at are of a respectable and trusted individual. With that in mind, here are a few things to think about while you're cleaning up your profiles.
Some Ground Rules
Use Common Sense
If you're using any social media site, you should be aware that anything you post online has the potential to be seen publicly. You might have privacy settings to counter this, but you should take extra precautions to ensure that this doesn't happen. For one, avoid posting anything with bad language, offensive material or anything else that could be deemed as unprofessional.
Treat social media the same way as if you were at a public event. If you wouldn't say it to a group of strangers, then it's best not to post it. If you're in any way unsure about whether something will be interpreted as offensive or not, don't post it. It's better to be safe than sorry.
This may sound vain, but Googling yourself is a great way to see what kind of information is available about you to the outside world. Go into private browsing or incognito mode and type your name into the search bar. Realistically, anyone that is searching for information about you won't go as far as the first page so focus on the results that pop up here.
On the other hand, it wouldn't hurt to go through the next few pages to see if there's any controversial or sensitive results there. If you do come across such material, try your best to get it removed as it could potentially rear its head at a later stage.
Have An Appropriate Profile Photo
Although you make it difficult for people to find your profile, remember that people can still see your profile and cover photos if they find it. So make sure that both photos are ones that you want to present if someone decides to visit your profile.
Have Someone Browse Your Profiles
If you're constantly editing your profiles and you want peace of mind, asking a good friend or relative to search for your profiles and find anything that could be deemed as offensive. A second opinion might help you spot things that you wouldn't have considered the first time around and could help you. Take their advice into consideration when you're looking through your profiles again.
Check Your Privacy Settings
If you want to keep your personal information on a tight leash, Facebook has an entire section dedicated to privacy and visibility. Through your privacy settings, you can adjust what type of content is seen by all such as posts, photos, tagging, apps and personal information.
A useful but hidden feature in privacy is public page preview. In the public search option (located in the app, games and website section of your privacy settings), you can preview what your page looks like to those who aren't friends with you.
Another method you can use to increase your privacy is to turn off public search in privacy settings. Found underneath public page preview, this prevents your profile from appearing on Google, Bing or any other search engine. However, if you've just recently turned it off, some people will be able to find it if they searched for it before. This is because many search engines keep a history of your searches and will retain such information for quicker results.
Turn Off Subscriptions
You're not always notified when someone subscribes to your profile so if you're feeling a little cautious, you can switch this off in account settings under subscribers. Subscribers only see content that you post publicly, but if you only want your friends to see your updates, switch it off.
Untag Uncompromising Photos
Another common sense area, if there are uncompromising photos of yourself online, you should quickly scan through your photos and untag yourself from any that could come back to haunt you. Unless you've been tagged in thousands of photos or have a very bad memory, you should have a good idea which photos aren't going to be received well so browse through them and untag.
Limit Access To Old Posts
Another handy method of hiding old posts - posts that you made pre-Timeline - is to automatically change all old posts to private. This means that only friends can see your profile and it can be done in two simple clicks. Just go into privacy settings, and you will find the option second from bottom.
Optimise Your Bio
Alongside your profile and cover photo, your profile will be one of the first things people will see when they click on your profile. Even if your tweets are protected, this will still be visible so ensure that the information there is relevant and inoffensive. Nobody minds if you put some personality into your bio and mention your interests, but place what you do, your interests and avoid anything offensive.
Delete Dodgy Tweets
Much like Google search pages, few people will take the time to scroll through most of your old tweets, instead using the first two pages as a benchmark before deciding. Although keep the deleting to a minimum if you can. If you posted something that's truly offensive, then it's probably worth deleting. If it's something silly or if you've expressed a strong opinion that could be controversial like politics or religion, you will need to decide whether it's worth keeping or not.
You shouldn't delete tweets just because you express an opinion, but consider how you make the argument first. A sweeping or generalising statement isn't going to win you many friends, but one that's measured and logical is definitely worth keeping.
Use Relevant Keywords
Your LinkedIn profile is going to be pretty clean so you won't have to worry about removing dodgy content. Instead, what you should worry about is optimising your profile. The best way to start off is by adding relevant keywords to your profile. This works for two reasons: The first is that it gives potential employers a snapshot of your skill set, while the second reason is for endorsements. Whatever your opinion is on them, they're a handy way of getting your expertise across.
Spend as much time as possible working on your LinkedIn profile as you would on your own CV simply because LinkedIn is your CV online. That means having all information correct, sections updated and that no spelling errors or typos can be found.
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