Everyone (and our moms, uncles, neighbors, and cousins twice removed) is on Facebook these days.
But how effective is it as a job search tool? What about any social media for that matter? And how do you deal with the blending of your personal life and your job hunt?
Obviously, if your profile has dozens of tagged pictures of your drunken escapades accompanied by friends’ wall posts recounting every lurid detail, your profile is probably not that great for a job search tool. To keep embarrassing details from falling into the wrong hands, clean up your profile.
Keep those unseemly tagged pictures strictly between you and your closest friends (and no, I’m not talking about the 500-plus friends on your list, many of whom you probably met on your drunken escapades).
Do you think your online presence is ready for your job hunt?
Here are five ways to make sure.
1) Google yourself
Lots of employers Google their candidates. Out of curiosity, I recently Googled a friend’s name expecting to see his Linkedin profile. Instead, the search uncovered someone’s years-old Xanga entry with my friend’s full name and pictures of him drinking.
Not the kind of thing he’d want employers to see.
If this happens to you and you ask your friend to take it offline, be aware of Google’s cached option. It’s a snapshot of what the site looked like when Google came across it — and Google is not the only source for archived web content!
Someone can search your name and, though the site itself is no longer available, see that particular page using the Google “cached” link (it’s in tiny type under each search result that comes up). It eventually disappears, the next time Google trolls the Web, but other archiving sites may still have it.
2) Monitor what you put online
Though you can’t always control what other people put online, you certainly can be wary of what you post. Is your blog presentable? Do you list your contact information? Your Facebook — is it privatized so only your friends can see it?
Further, are certain things privatized so only certain people on your friends list can see it? Here’s a useful article published by The New York Times of three Facebook settings every user should check. (http://www.nytimes.com/external/readwriteweb/2010/01/20/20readwriteweb-the-3-facebook-settings-every-user-should-c-29287.html?em)
3) Be wary of third-party sites
My sister Googled herself one day and found that sites such as Delver and Rapleaf had aggregated her online data without her knowledge. Thousands of Flickr photos she hadn’t privatized were posted, along with a link to her Facebook profile.
Know that what you put on one site may actually end up elsewhere without your permission.
4) Watch yourself in public
When the drinks are flowing and cameras are flashing, it’s easy to let loose. But with sites like Facebook making it entirely too easy for pictures of you to be posted without your consent (and extremely visible to circles of friends who are not yours), it’s almost paparazzi-like.
Be wary of what you’re posing for. It sounds paranoid, but tell that to the people who end up on gossip sites that pride themselves on poking fun at ordinary people like us. (http://thedirty.com/)
5) Be kind to your friends (and acquaintances)
If you have unflattering or potentially scandalous pictures of them, laugh about it in private. You never know if they’ll post similar pictures of you out of spite. Be the one to break the cycle.
Karen Bolipata is a freelance writer living in New York. Visit her blog at karenmaywrites.wordpress.com