Five Ways To Keep Your Online Presence Tight – After You Take the “Google Yourself” Challenge

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF chair & freelance aviation/travel journalist and blogger

Students and young folks who are NABJ members know that I do resume reviews for free.  of course, the word got out and I do them when I can.  A young journalist recently asked me to review her resume.  At first glance it looks great.  She went to a good school, had great internships, graduated with the right degree and was doing well in her current job.

When I do these reviews, I always Google the name of the reviewee just to check how they look to the outside world. Needless to say, her profile — mostly Twitter — was a mess.  She was very active and there were tweets on there that made me blush.  She also had some questionable photos on her Facebook account.

When we did the resume review, I asked her when was the last time she Googled herself; she replied she hadn’t done it in at least a year.  When she did, she was horrified.

And she had every right to be.  This post on BackgroundCheck.org has a great infographic on exactly how much of your information is public and that information can affect your job prospects and even your safety. Below I offer my tips to keep your profile clean and professional.

  1. Create separate Twitter handles. I have accounts for my aviation and journalism professional worlds, plus I have a personal account.
  2. Think before you post on social media.  It seems obvious, but I still see folks posting crazy things that don’t enhance their reputations.
  3. Go through your Facebook timeline. Remove questionable items and photos.  And create separate lists to divide who sees what.  This article (ignore all the annoying ads) shows you how to do it.
  4. Complete your LinkedIn profile to 100 percent. More and more employers are using this site to look for potential employees, so you want to put your best foot forward.
  5. Be tough with friends, family and acquaintances. I have a cousin who I love dearly, but I had to cut him off my Facebook account because of his excessive cursing and obsession with Farmville.  You can’t regulate the behavior of others, but you can cut them out of your profile.

If you have bigger issues, you may need to hire a company to clean up your online reputation.  Some out there include Reputation.com or Veribo.  And even if things are pretty clean, you still need to Google your name regularly to ensure that nothing bad shows up.

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