Written by Sarah Mania
As I’m sure you know, the Internet is full of both great and awful things. Funny Yelp reviews and unflattering photos are part of what makes being online that much more fun. However, sometimes those bits of fun can come back to haunt you. Before the ghost of Internet past comes knocking, jump into the spirit (get it?) of spring and check out our three easy steps to help you clean up your online presence.
1. Search for yourself
Before you start Timehop-ing back to yesteryear, log out of Facebook (and Twitter and Gmail and Instagram). Open a new window and search for your name. Check out both search engine and social media results.
Pay attention to the first few results that pop up. Pretend to be a recruiter scoping out a potential employee: you. Are you seeing reviews and blog posts that reflect your charm and work-skill? Or does your name bring up a barrage of nasty comments and spring break pics?
According to ExecuNet, recruiters are looking for many signs of bad behavior online. These include alcohol and drug use, poor communication skills, unprofessional screen names, and more. Be sure your initial online presence won’t make someone want to close the tab right away.
2. Remove the undesirable
OK, so you might have been a little drunk in the photo from your college Senior Trip. And, OK, maybe it’s not the best choice for your profile picture on LinkedIn. What should you do now?
Once you’ve found unfavorable content, it’s time to distance yourself from it. Untag yourself from bad photos. Unfriend the person who’s always tagging you on parody accounts. Change your social media account settings. Make it so only friends can see what you post. You might also consider requesting for search engine results be removed if they’re especially defamatory.
3. Boost your online presence
If you’ve made a few mistakes about your online content, don’t worry! You can always make up for any poor choices by spending time consistently posting good (or even great!) content.
Sign up for websites related to what you do so you have a specific place to upload your work. If you post articles to LinkedIn, make sure they’re professional in nature. Create a personal website where you can post your résumé and portfolio.
Almost most importantly, make sure this is the content people are seeing! Plug your Flickr or website on social media. If people are looking for the positive parts of your online presence, they’ll be less likely to randomly stumble upon the worse aspects.
But what if you’re a business concerned about your online presence? No sweat! Your company can also apply these steps. Try responding to negative reviews in a polite and engaging way. Steer away from politics if those discussions have caused you damage before.
The most important thing is to just be aware of what you’re posting. Remember: If you wouldn’t want your mother to see it, don’t post it!
If you’re a business owner looking to clean up your online presence, consider hiring interns to help!
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