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7 Social Media Warning Flags For Job Seeking Grads

bombRecent college grads are up against the toughest job market seen in a generation. As much as the job outlook can make things difficult for job seekers, there is one area where grads need to make sure doesn't impede them in their quest for work. And that would be social media.

There are hundreds of social media sites where people gather together online to express themselves, chat it up with other web users, even making a name for themselves in cyber space. LinkedIn is perhaps the most professional of the well known social sites while MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Digg tend to be more informal. And that is precisely where problems might arise.

Younger people tend to say what is on their minds without regard to what other people think. That may work when you're being anonymous, but if your online profile syncs with who you really are, then you have a problem that must be dealt with.

Businesses today have caught on to what the internet is all about and are employing sophisticated methods to gather information about job candidates through the internet. Damaging details related to your political life, religion, community activities, etc. can short-circuit your job search, in most cases without you ever learning the reasons why no job was offered.

7 Steps To Repairing Your Online Image

1.Clean Up Your Profiles

Your online profile tells readers something about you. Trouble is, some of the information you share could be held against you. Make a point to visit your favorite social media sites to see if anything untoward needs to be removed.

2.Use A Professional Email Address

Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo each make for very good free mail sites, but it is often the choice of email address that causes problems. Several years back I posted a resume online for a young woman, but not before I told her to use a different email address besides her oh-so-sexy-lips AT hermail.com address.

3.Update Your Photographs

Avatars are fine as long as they aren't unprofessional. But unprofessional photographs can sink you too. If you're looking for work, then have the photograph that best represents who you are online. You may look fine in a bikini, but you won't be wearing that "suit" to the office!

4.Cancel Community Memberships

Speaking of social media sites, just how many do you belong to? Probably a lot more than you realize. Cancel all inactive accounts and consider distancing yourself from communities that incite its members or are otherwise unproductive.

5.Reread What You Wrote

The best censor online is you. Remember, anything you publish may never disappear even if you delete the files. Internet archiving ensures that what you wrote in 1996 and 2001 will be readable in 2010 and beyond. You may not need to delete what your wrote, but modifying an article could help. Oh, by the way, get rid of any YouTube or other video file sharing work that reflects poorly on you.

6.Check Your Blog Comments

Your comments on someone else's blog or forum could come back to bite you. Even words said in jest can be misinterpreted. Chances are you can recall one of your more colorful exchanges -- even though you may not be able to modify what your wrote, be prepared to explain it to the interviewer if that conversation is brought up. Otherwise, forget about it and move on.

7.Remove Negative Search Results

Everyone should Google their name and variations of the same to read what was written about them. The Search Engine Results Pages or SERPs can reveal much about you, some of that information could be misleading or false, while other material could be true, but regretful. You may need to hire a professional to help remove negative search results, especially if particularly damaging information appears.

Free speech defenders may howl over some of the points made, but in reality employers don't have to hire you if they uncover unfavorable information about you. Worse, you'll likely never learn the reason why, but if you suspect that your online presence is the culprit then you must clean up what you can.

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