Scrubbing your social media accounts by deleting questionable content can save you a professional nightmare down the road.
- Things you’ve posted to social media in the past can come back to harm you professionally.
- Scrubbing your social media accounts by deleting questionable content can save you a professional nightmare down the road.
- We asked branding and PR experts for seven steps you should take when you’re scrubbing your social media accounts.
If you’re on social media, you’ve probably posted something you’ve later regretted.
In fact, according to a YouGov survey, 57% of Brits who use social media have posted something that they regret.
With more and more companies taking a peek at job applicants’ social media profiles during the recruitment process, you might be wondering how to completely delete photos, videos, and written posts from the past that may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but now are flat-out embarrassing.
And while it may be hard to entirely scrub your social media from the internet, there are certain measures you can take to make sure your current online presence matches who you are today.
You don’t have to delete all your photos to be job-search-ready — just be sure to archive the ones that may not reflect the person you are today.
Before you do a deep clean of your social media accounts, take stock of what’s worth deleting and what’s worth preserving.
After all, in the same way that a regrettable post could hurt you in a job search, other posts could showcase to employers why you’d be a good hire.
“As a branding and recruiting professional, seeing someone’s personality via their social media accounts gives me a lot of insight into who they are,” Sadie Lövgren, recruitment and branding coordinator at STS Education, said.
“Photos can be helpful when trying to understand someone’s personality and interests. I like to see if their personality matches our company culture and values. This may not be apparent off the bat from social media, but it tends to give me a hint of what a candidate may be like.”
Basically, the goal should be to do away with photos that may put you in a compromising or uncomfortable situation, not to hide all traces of who you are.
Take a conservative approach to what content might be considered ‘offensive’ or ‘inappropriate.’
Future employers may not have the same sensibilities as you, so try to view your online presence from an outside perspective. Browse through all your social channels and content to look for anything that may be deemed offensive or inappropriate.
This goes beyond posts you’ve made yourself — think about all the memes and you’ve shared, “liked,” and retweeted. In 2017, Harvard rescinded the admissions offers of at least 10 students who posted obscene memes to a Facebook group.
If there is even doubt that something you like or post might be offensive, remove it.
Comb through any blogs you’ve run and judge whether it still reflects who you are today.
Whether you currently have a blog or had one years ago, it’s time to revisit and examine your content. Does that content reflect who you are today?
If it’s not relevant anymore, it might be time to delete the content. If you want to keep the blog for the sake of nostalgia, thoroughly go through all of your posts and judge whether the subject matter is appropriate, as well as any interactions you may have had with readers.
“Not only could questionable content have professional implications for you, it could also land you in legal trouble. Violating copyright law and failing to disclose brand relationships are two of the biggest legal issues bloggers face” Susan Friesen, founder of the marketing firm eVision Media, wrote for Born2Invest.
Google is where most recruiters and hiring officers start if they want to find out who you are.
You should google not only your name to see what pops up, but also any online aliases and email addresses you’ve used over the years. That process might turn up inappropriate comments, unflattering pictures, or connections to questionable websites you forgot you were ever active on.
“Your online presence is an asset, and you shouldn’t be hiding who you are from recruiters. But be smart and mindful of the signal your online presence sends,” Mitchell Early, director of marketing at Crash, said. “If a stranger googled your name, who would the search results say you are? That’s the story you should focus on.”
Clean up your Twitter feed by unfollowing questionable accounts and deleting inappropriate tweets.
While tweets may be short, they sure are powerful. Twitter is one of the most popular platforms to express opinions and hear others. It can be easy to react quickly to something on Twitter and get in a heated exchange with a random stranger.
PR experts recommended making sure that your tweets can’t be interpreted as ignorant, mean, or in any way offensive. Unless such content is deleted, no matter how long ago you posted it, the exchanges will still be floating around.
Additionally, take the time to revisit your followers and following list. Make sure that you only follow accounts that you actually want to be associated with.
Dig up any old email addresses and aliases that could be tied to you.
Remember those email addresses and aliases that you created when you were young?
Think back to whether or not you used immature or inappropriate wording when creating an account or email somewhere on the internet. Those old accounts and aliases might seem harmless in your eyes, but others may disagree.
If you do remember using something inappropriate, it’s time to delete that account. While some may find it unfair to be penalized for something you did as a teenager, it’s not unheard of. Names that appear violent, sexual, or offensive in any way can cause you unforeseen troubles in the future.
Not only do you need to consider the wording of these accounts, but also how you used them and whether you participated in any questionable online discussions.
If you have a lot of anxiety or regrets regarding your online presence — reconsider how you present yourself online moving forward.
Cleaning up your online profile can take a while, but it can be worth it for a variety of reasons. Whether you are a student, a professional trying to advance your career, or you’re in the process of applying for a job, you can be sure the decision makers will do their due diligence.
If cleaning up your profile takes you a while, then it may be wise to reconsider what and how you express yourself online.
“An online presence is a precarious thing,” Melissa Kandel, a PR and marketing consultant, told Business Insider. “In a world where inauthentic representation reigns, it’s important to show who you are. Exercise the same well-honed judgment you use around your peers or colleagues for your Boomerangs and bachelor party photos,”
Remember, almost nothing on the internet is private. If you want a “clean” online presence, think twice before you leave comments or post pictures to begin with. You might not care how your online presence portrays you as a person, but it could have an unforeseen impact on your future.