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Manage your online personal image

​If you are looking for a job or think you will be in the next few years, be aware that your online personal image can make or break your job search. More and more employers are turning to Google and social media sites to screen job applicants. It is important for any job seeker to understand how companies use social media to perform low-key background checks on their candidates.

CareerBuilder surveyed companies in 2009 on how they screen potential employees. The survey found that 45% of companies used social media and 35% chose to not hire a candidate because of what was found on social networking sites. Here are a few simple steps you can take to ensure your online reputation showcases your character and skills in a positive light:

  • Google yourself. What content appears in the search result, including articles, images and videos? Try to remove any negative, unflattering or inappropriate content you wouldn't want an employer to see. Ask your friends to take down anything on their pages that you object to.
  • Review each of your social media profiles to see what potential employers will be able to see. Remove or restrict access to information that might look unprofessional.
  • Create a professional online presence. Showcase yourself as an expert in your field. Post and share content that potential employers might find interesting.
  • Monitor your image. Google Alerts is a free tool that will notify you with an email any time your name appears in a Google search. Set up an alert for yourself and check it regularly.
  • Social networking and online postings can be useful in creating a positive image and highlighting your expertise. Consider posting a comment on articles on social networking sites to show your knowledge of the industry you are in or wish to enter.

    Be careful what you post on the Internet. Remember, anything posted online is public and may be visible to future employers. In today's tight, competitive job market, having a professional image both online and offline is critical.

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