Ah, the digital age—where the go-to move upon meeting someone new or seeking a sliver of information is the classic Google search. Your online presence is like an ever-expanding virtual business card, and people are more likely than ever to take a deep dive into your digital footprint.
Social media has become an essential part of our everyday routines, and it’s easy to get caught up in the endless cycle of selfies, witty captions, and keeping up with the latest trends. If your profiles are cluttered with questionable retweets, incriminating photos, or less-than-professional posts, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and tidy up.
Ensuring a polished online presence is essential in this interconnected world. You never know who might be searching your name, ready to form an opinion based on that one embarrassing photo from college. First impressions are now only a click away.
These virtual platforms hold a much deeper significance in professional growth and career opportunities. So, as you prepare for the next job interview or embark on joining a professional organization, shift your focus from the casual side of posts to the power it wields in shaping your reputation.
Let The Cyber-Sleuthing Begin
One of the best ways to start a social media audit and get a glimpse of what others see is to pop your name into a Google search. Discover what digital breadcrumbs you’ve left behind by taking a virtual stroll through your social media and digital history.
Inserting quotation marks around your first and last name may help pull up any quotes you may—or may not—have said that Google has indefinitely captured. Add your hometown or any previous companies you’ve worked for to the search to see what exists online. This gives you a headstart to your digital spring clean, as whatever images, posts, or links you see, others surely will, too.
Conduct A Profile Audit
After you’ve done your digging, begin refreshing your social media presence by conducting a comprehensive audit of all accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other regularly-used platforms. During this inspection, pay close attention to the following elements:
- Personal Information — Your profile bios and all contact information should be accurate, up-to-date, and consistent across all platforms.
- Privacy Settings — Check your privacy settings to control who can view your content and personal details. If your accounts are public, consider setting them to friends-only.
- Content — Review your content for red flags and determine what should be untagged, deleted, and removed from your accounts.
Untag, Delete, & Remove
Consider the position you’re applying for or the organization you’d like to join and determine what might be relevant or appropriate. As you scrutinize your content, be mindful of red flags considered unprofessional, offensive, or controversial, including:
- Inflammatory or offensive language
- Overtly sexual photos or videos
- Content related to alcohol, drugs, or illegal activities
- Controversial political or extreme religious opinions
Make a note to remove any posts riddled with typos or grammar errors, as this can make you look less intelligent and less qualified. Additionally, try to clean up any content you may have posted about previous employers or negative work-related information. Some platforms, such as Twitter, have tools that allow you to search for keywords in past tweets, making it easier to flag and delete anything questionable.
While it can be easy to clean up any posts that you have posted, it can be tricky dealing with content that someone else has posted. On most platforms, you can untag yourself to avoid the photos from appearing on your profile; however, consider going the extra mile to ask them to delete any undesirable content of you.
Update Your Profile Photos
Now is an excellent time to invest in good-quality headshots, as you can utilize them across all social media platforms. While it’s not necessary to use professional headshots for your personal social media accounts, it promotes consistency. If you choose to use a personal photo for your Instagram or Facebook, ensure it’s appropriate and highlights you in the best way possible.
Get On LinkedIn
If you don’t already have one, create a professional profile on LinkedIn. This is an excellent tool for prospective employers, networking, and exploring career opportunities. With these tips, you can leverage all of the incredible benefits of a properly executed LinkedIn account:
- Use a profile photo that depicts you in the best light
- Highlight your accomplishments, certificates, and education
- Be endorsed by previous employers, clients, and supervisors
- Establish credibility by showing your affiliation with professional organizations and communities in the industry
- Engage in relevant professional content
Engage In & Create Meaningful Content
One of the best things your social media profiles can do is show you’re passionate about something and engaged in the latest industry-related trends.
Sharing upcoming research, reposting articles, and providing feedback from your position’s perspective is valuable content that should take up real estate on your digital footprint. Whether related to your career path or entirely unique, making your social media accounts a platform to learn something new is an excellent way to utilize these resources.
Keep Tabs On Your Digital Reputation
You can regularly monitor your accounts by searching for your name on search engines and social media platforms. Set up Google Alerts to track any new mentions of your name online and address any harmful content or feedback promptly and professionally.
You can create a solid and positive online reputation by refreshing your social media presence before your next job interview or joining a professional organization. This enhances your chances of success and helps you build a robust professional network.
Not every employer will play detective and scour your social media accounts before making a decision. Some might merely glance at your profiles, while others remain blissfully unaware of your online existence. However, one should be prepared for that eagle-eyed hiring manager who aims to uncover the digital you. And when that day comes, you’ll want to be armed and ready to make a spectacular impression.
Read more here for a guide on the Best Social Media Management Tools of 2023.