The importance of social media spring cleaning

By Leah Pearlman

Before you venture into The Most Amazing Word Carnival Ride Of Your Life, AKA a Leah Pearlman column, I command you to Google your full name. As you do this, imagine you are looking to hire yourself for a job.

Luckily, and somewhat sadly, when I did this I found out about another woman with my name who is pretty famous. Fun fact: she co-wrote Facebook For Dummies! AGShe takes up most of Google’s first page hits besides my Daily Illini staff page.AG This gave me a sense of relief that my personal accounts do not show themselves in the first page of the Google search, because it makes it harder for a potential employer to find information on me.

However, if you click on the ‘next’ button, and scroll to the last of the links that Google found for us, you will see my Twitter account. And if you click on this account, you will see another side of me that I wouldn’t want near a potential employer. I retweet a lot of @TrendyProblems’ and @Kanyewest’s posts — don’t judge me.AG

You cannot find anything of mine on the third Google search page, the fourth one has my riveting and scandalous Pinterest account filled with boards of puppies and wedding dresses, and the 12th page shows my SoundCloud account with nothing on it. And that’s without even mentioning my Facebook photos.

Today, social media allows us to expose ourselves to the world in all realms, from blogs, to Instagram photos, to Facebook likes. We are creating digital footprints of who we are with each click. But, we have to be cautious of how we portray ourselves online and how that looks to other people, especially when we are looking to apply to jobs this summer and in the future.

The online discoveries of potential employers prevent them from even considering an application more than you might think. According to The Muse, a website for career advice, 86 percent of job seekers have a social network profile AGand 45 percent of employers admit checking out a candidate’s social media.AG From Facebook to Twitter, they will likely find what you posted.

If you are okay with the things you found after your Google search, then good for you. Personally, a pretty intense spring cleaning is in order for me, and probably many of you as well.

As a college student, I have personally racked up those “party pics.” I know, I know, I am cool. However, employers have different ideas about these pictures; they don’t want to see them.

A lot of college students participate in a faulty system to hide from employers by changing their last names on the site. Unfortunately enough, employers can actually search users by their email addresses, school and network. Plus, those fake names are super annoying.

In this case, you may choose to delete the pictures an employer may deem distasteful, offensive or inappropriate. Use your personal judgment, and if you cannot decide if a potential employer would find a photo offensive or not, ask yourself what your grandparents would think. It is better to stray away from anything even worth questioning.

If you do not want to delete photos, though, you can opt for a different route and set them to private.AG Refine what a future employer can see by customizing your privacy settings to work to your advantage. This is also an easy way to keep your public profile safer and more private in general.

A lot of students are presently undergoing the summer job search, and might need to clean up their act online. Microsoft found in a survey that less than 20 percent of survey respondents took an active step to edit or remove online information that might affect their reputation. Don’t be a part of this percentage, and miss out on opportunities because of your online choices.

It is unfortunate that nothing can be kept secret in this day and age, but with all the cool things that come with socializing and spreading your interests across the internet, there also come drawbacks.

Keep all of your public profiles professional and accurate, or simply privatize them as much as possible. Sure, you aren’t defined by what you display on the internet, but companies and future employers don’t have to look any further.

Leah is a freshman in Media.? 

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