If you need a reason to watch what you tweet and Facebook, know that potential employers have their eye on everything you've ever published on social media platforms. Initially, we assumed people only had to be wary of their recent history, but this New York Times article opened my eyes to the fact that firms have the ability to get a record of your whole social media history, which includes things you've posted on Craigslist, image-sharing sites, and YouTube.
It's getting easier for firms to look up your history thanks to startups which do the searching for them. There's one called Social Intelligence that neatly compiles a report of all your Internet activity in the last seven years and searches for things like "online evidence of racist remarks; references to drugs; sexually explicit photos, text messages or videos; flagrant displays of weapons or bombs and clearly identifiable violent activity."
Here's how to make sure your records will be squeaky clean.
- Google yourself: Thoroughly Google yourself to see what online footprints you've left on the web. Use combinations of your name and add keywords such as the companies you've worked for or the schools you attended.
- Make a list of emails and accounts: You may have forgotten about old emails you had way back when. Make a list of the emails and try to access them to see if there are any websites or accounts for you to check up on. Then make a list of accounts, community boards, websites you've visited and participated in. For example, is there an old Xanga or Friendster account that you've forgotten about? Have you been a little loose-lipped on your Reddit account? Check them out to make sure that there aren't any red flags, or even delete them if you don't feel comfortable with the accounts.
- Play around with privacy settings: Consider making your Twitter private and play around with privacy settings on Facebook so that users who are not your friends can only see very basic information, such as your name and your gender. Or, you can even make yourself unsearchable if you click on certain options. Remember to be cautious with new social media sites such as Google+ and make sure you're fully aware of their privacy settings before sharing too much on the platform.
- Don't put up anything racy or offensive: The best way to keep your record clean is to be clean on the Internet. Keep personal thoughts, pictures, and videos to yourself and don't write anything too controversial if you don't want it coming back to haunt you.