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Home > Blog: Job Seeker Tips > 5 Ways to Cover Your Web Tracks

5 Ways to Cover Your Web Tracks

Facebook. MySpace. LinkedIn. Twitter. YouTube.

Recognize those names? They may be little more to you than fun, creative, online forums to voice your personality. But you've heard the warning before: If you want something to be private, don't post it online.

In the age of social networking, ignoring that warning could prove disastrous. It's no secret anymore that recruiters and hiring managers use the Internet to filter candidates before they even make initial contact. If you're on the hunt for a new job, take my advice and follow these five tips to cover your own web tracks:

1)  Google yourself. We've all done this before. Even out of pure curiosity, we want to know what everyone else in the world will find if they search for our names. Give it a try and see what pops up. If you can't find anything within the first 3 or 4 pages of results, then you're probably in the clear. But if you do spot some relevant links, move on to ...

2)  Review your profiles. Typically, the links that show up in your search lead to profiles on social networking sites (such as Facebook, MySpace, and others listed above). Review these profiles to see what others will see if they do the same. Not happy with what you find? Take the necessary steps to a more professional profile and ...

3)  Remove embarrassing pictures and content. The best part about social networking is the ability to express yourself and connect with friends when it's convenient. But when you're looking for a new job and interested recruiters can easily view your profile, clean it up a bit by wiping out any pictures of yourself half-naked, wrestling in a pit of mud and beer (well, you get the idea). If it's not professional, it could skew the professionalism you're trying to project to future employers. Also, make sure that nothing you have on your profile contradicts the qualifications and skills you put on your resume. If you claim to have excellent communication skills, don't let your "About Me" description show otherwise with misspelled words and sloppy sentences. Don't want to dismantle your online personality to such a degree? Then simply ... 

4)  Change your privacy settings. Every networking site has user-changeable privacy settings, and if you've never played with them before, now's the time. If you did a web search for my name right now, you'd discover that I'm an author on something called The Pongo Blog and that I have a Facebook account — but you'd never know that I'm also on MySpace. Personally, I don't want to give the world access to my MySpace page, nor do I wish for them to see every Facebook detail about me when they click on that link. So I tailored my profiles to show only what I'm comfortable with. To do the same, just find the settings that control your public profile and tweak them until it (a) no longer shows up in a web search, or (b) displays only what you want the world to see. But remember, the web is not always something you can control, so just try to ...

5)  Relax. If you've exhausted your efforts and just can't fix or remove your own web tracks, consider this: If an employer fails to consider you for a position based solely on your social networking profiles, you probably don't want to work for them anyway.

We know profile filtering is happening every day, but do you think it's OK for an employer to do it?

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