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Editorial | Keeping a clean slate online may steer you in the clear for a job

By Editorial Board
On February 28, 2014

If you haven't been lectured by your parents, professors or the media enough already, The Miami Student Editorial Board wants to stress (again) that nothing is private when it comes to social media and virtual content. Not only can your ex's new girlfriend find a crazy amount of information on you within seconds - that is if she was so inclined - but so can potential employers. The first thing recruiters will do when they evaluate your resume or application is find you online-mostly through Google but also through Facebook. Another handy tool for recruiters is LinkedIn, a social networking site for professionals. Some employers even go as far to find you on Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. For this reason, having a strong web presence these days is crucial to getting a job.

If you're an upperclassman you should already have your Facebook and Twitter under lock and key. But even if you are a first-year or sophomore, finding an internship may be on your agenda in the near future. With that said, the Editorial Board has a few recommendations to get your virtual self in check.

The first and most obvious step you should take when cleaning up your social media pages is to go through your pictures. And since a picture is worth 1,000 words, maybe your "GBD '13 album" should be set to private, especially if you're underage. This includes going through your profile pictures as well as your tagged photos. If you wouldn't want your parents, grandparents or future children to see you doing what you're doing in that picture, un-tag yourself.

We then recommend making your way over to the "About" tab. Here, employers can discover your religious beliefs, political affiliation, your favorite music and movie quotes. While this all may be important to you, it is better to play on the safe side and hide it from public viewers. Try to avoid the risk of an employer finding out that you're a member of the Megan Fox fan page.

Some students have even changed their display name to make it harder (or impossible) for employers to find their page in the first place. Changing your last name to read as your middle name would do the job.

However, some of our editors find it difficult or even frustrating to limit their Facebook footprint. Social media can be an extension of your personal life. But it is now becoming a business tool which is why it is wise to have more than one sphere of social media interaction. For example, one of our editors mentioned he uses Facebook as a way of connecting with friends and family by posting pictures and videos but says he keeps his Twitter more business-related.

Beyond social media, another trend in online professional networking is through a professional website-this goes beyond LinkedIn. In today's job market, it is important to showcase your technical skills, but even if you are not up to speed on HTML or web design, there are sites like Weebly, Wix and the traditional Wordpress. And to make things even easier, there is a new, free tool called Strikingly that actually creates a professional website by accessing a user's LinkedIn account. It essentially assembles your online professional portfolio for you. Ann Murray, a Strikingly representative says, "These days, most employers are doing Google searches to research potential new hires.  To take control of Google's results, savvy job seekers are now creating personal career websites that better describe their unique skills, job highlights, sample work product and relevant social media links."

Having a well-crafted personal career website can put you ahead of your competition. You can put it on your resume and give potential employers the option of finding out a lot about you. Especially in fields where web design is considered a necessary skill, a good website can serve as a strong demonstration of your web design skills, in addition to a place to list all your achievements. 

In the end, it is important to pay attention to the image you're conveying and to actively work to keep it pristine. We have more control over what people see than we think we do and we should exercise that more. Career Services is a great place to find tips on how to kick-start your professional portfolio.

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