(MoneyWatch) Any good recruiter will prepare for your interview not only by reading your resume, but also Googling you. Make a good first impression and do your own preparation by polishing your presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumbler and any other social media platforms you use. Here's how.
Double-check your Facebook privacy settings.
Facebook is the social media platform that you're likely to post your most personal stuff on, so it should be your first stop when cleaning up your profiles before an interview. When in doubt, tighten your privacy settings. "This will show your employer that you're web security savvy - a must in today's digital workplace," says social media consultant Jennifer Dunn. Just to be safe, you should also delete any incriminating photos altogether.
But don't sanitize your social media profiles completely.
While you want to take down tasteless photos, don't completely erase your personality from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and the like. If you erase any color, your employer won't learn anything interesting about you. And if you hide causes you're truly passionate about, you might do yourself a disservice. "A fundamental difference in attitude will often lead to a work environment where you just don't fit in. Be yourself and let those employers weed you out," says Dunn. Of course, you will want to use your judgement, and weigh how badly you need or want a job versus how important a particularly controversial cause is to you.
Review your Google+ posts and profile.
If you're new to this platform, you may not have taken a moment to make your posts private, but you should do so now. "On Google+, click on your photo and then select "Privacy." Here you can decide how and if you want your posts shown to the public. In the case of your previous posts, you can view the privacy of each one by viewing your post and then following along to the right and you will see the date, how it was posted and then who can see it," says social media consultant Kathryn Rose. Spot a potentially off-putting post? "Lock" it so no one can share it, or better yet, delete it.
Polish your profiles up.
Many jobs will require you to be competent in the world of social media, and updating your profiles across various platforms will show your working knowledge of this growing field. "Use the About You section on Facebook, Bio section of Twitter and the Introduction section of Google+ to showcase your knowledge base in your industry," says social media consultant Crystal Washington. Not only will you avoid coming across like a sanitized, boring blank slate (see above) but you'll showcase a little of what you can do before you even say hello.
Update your Facebook profile photo if necessary.
Even if you keep your profile private, employers will still see your face, or more specifically, your profile picture, says human resources consultant Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of Xceptional HR. "Facebook now shows all profiles in search results and no longer offers the option to hide your information," says Miller-Merrell. Your best bet is to choose a flattering headshot or another inviting but conservative pic. If you go for an innocuous shot that's not of you (like a beautiful sunset or cute picture of your new puppy) you'll have missed an opportunity for the recruiter employer to "meet" you before you actually sit down face to face.
Watch what you reblog.
Whether it's a re-tweet, a link on Tumblr or a share on Facebook, what you endorse shows a lot about you. A hiring manager may start to draw conclusions from this without even meeting you. "Just because you didn't initially post it doesn't mean it won't be associated with your candidacy if you choose to hit the reblog button," says Josh Tolan, CEO of Spark Hire, a video-based hiring network. Delete anything that could get you taken off the shortlist before you even begin the interviewing process.
Remove excessive tweets.
Tweeting shows that you're capable of using the medium and engaged in social media, but doing it every 20 minutes shows something else to a recruiter. "If you tweet too often, it seems like you have too much time on your hands," says Heather R. Huhman, founder of Come Recommended, a job search-focused marketing and PR firm. In the Twitter-sphere, go for quality over quantity.
Job seekers: Do you review your social media profiles before a job interview? Recruiters: Do you Google someone you're interviewing before you meet with him or her? Please sign in and share in the comments section.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Harumphy.
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