If a company is considering investing in you by offering you a employment opportunity, there’s a good chance they’re going to type your name into Google or search for you on Facebook and Twitter.

A crucial step of the job seeking process is social media maintenance – and you need to be aware of what settings you can use, what buttons you can push, what steps you need to take to cleanse your digital footprint.  Here are some tips to help you clean up your online presence:

1. Profile clean-up – Facebook

There’s a vast amount of privacy settings on Facebook, designed to help users control who can see what, with specific settings for posts, pictures and comments. If you have any concerns about anything you might have posted, and how that might reflect on you professionally, its best to control who sees what on your Facebook profile.

The first thing you need to do is check your privacy settings – from the main drop-down menu at the top right of screen (the arrow pointing down to the right of the padlock) go down to ‘Settings’ then click on ‘Privacy’ on the left menu panel. From here, you not only have the option to restrict your future posts, but you can also lock down your previous posts and any posts you’ve been tagged in.

Once you’ve checked through these settings, click through to your profile and click on the ‘…’ tab, up next to ‘View Activity Log’ in the main profile header.

The drop down here will give you an option to ‘View as…’ – click on that and select ‘View as: Public’ to see what anyone who looks you up on Facebook will see (if they search from inside Facebook). You should also log out and look yourself up outside of Facebook to see what people get if they click through to your Facebook page from Google. You might see that some of your interests and other categories are showing up – you can go to each one individually and lock them down (there are privacy options on each section).
Make sure you read through all your posts and updates, see what information you’re revealing about yourself. If you’re in any doubt about anything, best to lock it down and restrict it to just friends. You can also restrict any future Facebook posts from within the ‘Status Update’ field – if you click on the button that says ‘Public’ below the box, you can select whether this update is shared with ‘Public’, ‘Friends’ or a range of other specific settings.

Also remember to check your photos – go through your photos and de-tag yourself from any incidents you’d prefer not to be associated with. This is done photo by photo, with a pen icon coming up when you hover over each image – click on it, then select ‘Remove Tag’ at the bottom of the drop-down list.

It’s important to conduct this audit so you’re fully aware of what info you’re making public, and what that data might say about you. If you’re ever in any doubt as to how your Facebook profile might reflect on your professional standing, err on the side of caution and lock it down.

2. Profile clean-up – Twitter

Twitter is less complex. As you can only share posts of 140 characters, there’s likely to be fewer incriminating tweets attached to your name, but you still should check it off and ensure you’re presenting your professional self in the best light.

The first thing you should do is view your profile by clicking on the ‘Me’ tab at the top of the screen. This is how you’re presenting yourself to the world, how anyone who looks you up on Twitter will see you. Worth noting too that quite often your social media profiles, particularly Twitter, will rank high in Google results for your name, so there’s a good chance anyone looking you up is going to see this profile, as it’s presented in front of you.

Update your photo and background image to professional images – if you’re still using the generic background, definitely find something else to put up there that will better reflect your personal brand. It doesn’t have to be amazing, just a simple image that looks professional and clean – anything is better than not updating at all.

Your bio is also important, and needs to be an accurate reflection of who you are, professionally, and what you do. It’s worth reviewing this and clarifying your own branding statement, what you’d like to present to prospective employers. Focus on your mission, what you bring, as opposed to your skills and experiences alone. Your Twitter bio can be the difference between a person contacting you or clicking onto the next candidate, so worth taking the time to get it right. You should also add in a link to your personal blog or, if you don’t have one, your LinkedIn profile (you can create a customised LinkedIn URL to use for this).

And the last stage is review – start with the photos and videos you’ve shared. On the left-hand pane you’ll see a selection of the last six images you’ve shared. These are particularly important, as they appear on your front page, so you need to ensure there’s nothing controversial there. If there are any you’d like to remove, go through your tweets and delete the offending tweets (deleting tweets is simple – there’s a trash can icon at the bottom of each tweet, press that, then confirm when the pop-up prompt appears).
Your images are more likely to be searched than all your tweets, so you need to go through all of the pictures you’ve shared and take out any that don’t fit into the image you want to present.

3. Profile clean-up – other platforms

Images on Pinterest and Instragram from big nights out, posts on Google+ which could be taken the wrong way. Also review what groups you’re a part of, as these will show up in your profile.

4. Google yourself
Once you’ve cleaned up all you can, put your name into Google and see what comes up. Some of these matches will be things you’ve already changed – Google’s results don’t update instantaneously, it may take days or even a couple of weeks, before all your changes are reflected.