A look into online profiles and how much they affect employers’ decisions in choosing new hires.

by Lory Martinez

Spring Cleaning your online presence

This week we’ve done a number of stories on online profiles. And now, as graduation and the real world fast approach, it’s time to clean up,( If you haven’t already) that online persona.  Warning: A virtual suit and tie may be required.

According to a recent study, up to 37 percent of employers check social networking sites before even considering an employee for an interview. Up to 90 percent  of employers are hiring through social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and even, Facebook.

In my recent interview with avid social media enthusiast, Jessie Rubin, we both noted that social media is who we are. As the generation that both created and produced the social media boom, we are indeed defined by our presence on the internet.  Ten years ago, email and instant messaging had only just begun to flourish, slowly collecting a kind of cyberhistory that has evolved and expanded into the myriad of platforms we use to communicate and express ourselves today.

Remember AOL instant messenger? Myspace? Remember the days of funny email addresses we made up for those accounts?

Aol Screenames circa 2002: chatingchuck, and any cat variations thereof

Now as kids grow up in this  “living yearbook” world, they have to be careful, because, in the same way an embarrassing photo from high school can come back to haunt our parents once they are found in the attic somewhere, our  “YOLO” moments can come back to bite us. And those are way easier to find.

So here are a few tips I’ve collected throughout my own years of experience with social media. Special thanks to those who have given me this professional advice and much more over the years.

How to clean up the digital you:

  • Check your privacy settings on all social platforms. Make sure you have to approve things before anyone can post them in association with you. We all ignore those emails from Facebook about updated privacy settings, but be sure to at least check your own settings
  • Google + is a useful tool. Even though a lot of people say it will never become popular in terms of social networking, you can at least help employers easily find you via Google search, and with a comprehensive profile, you can even direct them to your work.
  • Get a LinkedIn, if you don’t already have one. Even if all your connections are classmates, they will soon have jobs in the real world, just like you, and can help you later on.
  • Look through your photos you’re tagged in, make sure the photos represent the best version of you, the one that would make an employer think, “Yeah, I would definitely trust him/her with important tasks.”
  • Have a fancy profile photo or two. You should have a photo in a nice outfit  for your  job search profiles including Google + and LinkedIn. Keep it casual and fun for your other profiles, but maybe leave the beer can out, at your discretion.
  • Opinions are opinions are opinions. Yes, your opinion matters. Yes, it’s just as valid as any other. But be weary of ranting in public. The internet is vast like the ocean but it can also be as tiny as a small puritan town. Don’t be Hester Prynne. Gossip travels fast and so do viral posts, so make sure you don’t end up like this guy.
  • Don’t over-do it. Don’t go deleting your entire profile history and consider starting from scratch. Starting over is fine, but if there are no photos, or posts of you from before last week, it will be as if you never existed before last week. Don’t lose yourself, or your “digital” self in the process. It’s about cleaning up what’s there, not replacing it entirely. As the saying goes, “Work with what you’ve got.”

That’s about it folks. Have fun Spring Cleaning!