Social media has given us the opportunity to instantly communicate, connect post and comment. With this freedom of speech on a global scale, comes freedom of choice on the employment scale. However, a social media clean up is necessary.

Is your online footprint a digital asset or a web liability? Would recruiters and hiring manager choose you as the best candidate after viewing your online profiles?

According to a report by CareerBuilder published in 2017, over 70% of all hiring managers and recruiters would view a prospective candidates social media profile as part of the initial screening process. Furthermore, the same percentage of employers and recruiters engage in extensive research activities via search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo to investigate potential applicants in more detail.

If you are feeling a bit nauseous right now and vague flashes of your Twitter rant against a previous boss or a bachelor party which turned pear-shaped with pics tagged all over Facebook are crossing your mind……help is available in the next few paragraphs.

Detox: A Digital & Social Media Clean Up

Going cold turkey with a total deactivation exercise from all social media platforms is not the answer. Having no digital footprint is just as detrimental to your prospective job applications as a shady or X-rated online presence.

Step 1: Inspecting your online presence

Damage control starts with self-awareness. Google, Bing, and Yahoo yourself to get an idea of what is in the public domain containing your name, comments you have made, blog posts and pictures.

An easier way to do this incorporating the best of online algorithms and analytics is to get a free report from Brandyourself.com or Repusurance.com

Step 2: Instigating damage control

Depending on what you find of ‘’yourself’’ on the various search engines your next strategy is to remove any unsavory material manually or in extreme cases via formal requests to the respective search engine.

Step 3: Incognito on personal social media platforms

Your reputational risk on social media platforms is not limited to your own pics, posts, comments, and tweets. Your friends, friends of friends, groups, and communities are consumers as well as producers of content which can either boost or boot your application with prospective employers.

Playing it safe is often the best course of action, and you can ringfence these personal platforms by changing your privacy settings to private or assigning viewing access to only friends and family for instance. Make sure that you check any tagging settings too, as well as the apps with access rights to your profiles.

Step 4: Incinerate vulnerable content

In most cases you can manually delete any tweets, posts, pics, and comments that you have placed yourself, so get a cup of coffee and spend a few hours spring cleaning your online ‘’home”. Your career will thank you for it later.

Unfortunately, any content you have posted, which was shared by somebody else, is not so easy to get rid of and it may cost you quite a few dollars to sign up for an online reputation repair service.

Digital Makeover & Social Media Clean Up

Now it is time for the fun stuff. If you are actively seeking job opportunities, be assured that recruiters and hiring managers will be stalking you in the public domain.

Just as you would engage in a resume update every two to three years, now is the time to dress up those outdated public profiles, subscribe to new networking sites and impress for success.

Step 1: Innovate your personal brand

Get creative with your professional social media profiles. Linkedin, Myspace, Branchout, Opprtunity and Zerply to name but a few. These business networking platforms are your promotional allies, FOR FREE. They serve as personal branding platforms for your career.

A fail-safe technique for creating a well-rounded profile is to view profiles of ‘’influencers’’ on these platforms and take some inspiration from their styling, formatting and content creation strategies.

Do not underestimate the power of business networking platforms during your job seeking process: less than 5% of candidates find jobs via job boards and career portals these days.

Step 2: Inspiring profile pics

Adding profile pics creates a sense of personalization and these photos can be less formal than the one on your CV, but still steer clear of any pub or bikini images unless you own a pub, or your day job is being one of Sports Illustrated’s fitness models.

Background pics which resonates with your industry or job title adds a bit of spice to your overall profile.

Step 3: Inside groups and communities

Joining groups and community forums, relevant to your industry or field of expertise is a smart form of networking, especially if you are actively in the job market.

Visibility is vital, and prospective employers or recruiters will find your profile more easily this way.

Step 4: Influential following

Connect with Influencers or follow them on professional media platforms to stay abreast of current trends, events, and debates about your field of work.

Commenting (with caution) provides you with your own little soapbox of sorts and facilitate opportunities for increased exposure.

Cautious Content – Prevention is better than Cure

Be careful of the content that you decide to share or post. You would not email a politically heated article or the picture of the new tattoo on your derriere to your boss, would you? So, don’t share it on public platforms either.

Ranting and raving about a lousy waitress on a community platform in well, flowery language, may just cost you that important interview. Your free-spirited colleague tagging your tipsy state all over Facebook and Instagram after last week’s year-end function may result in that promotion flying out the window.

Your public profiles are like online showcases for recruiters and hiring managers to view at their heart’s content. Make sure that they always like what they see. “Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, Vimeo. If you have a Login and Password for just one of these, your career depends on it.” Good luck with your Social Media Clean up!