AngryWe’ve all heard the horror stories: a careless tweet, a thoughtless photo, and suddenly your whole life comes crashing down. While we hope that you’ll never face an online scandal of such epic proportions, the fact is that employers may check your online presence along with your references before they hire you.

Social media has the potential to make or break your job search, so use it wisely. Here are seven tips for job seekers in the digital age.

1. Make the Most of LinkedIn

Brad Schepp, coauthor of How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, recommends not only creating a profile on those sites, but also becoming an active, helpful member of the community. “[T]ry to give four times for every time you take,” says Schepp.  On LinkedIn, that means answering questions, making introductions, and offering endorsements.

2. Tweet About It

According to Nicole Fallon, assistant editor at Business News Daily, recruiters are increasingly turning to Twitter to get a sense of potential candidates.

“When you’re looking for a job, a good percentage of your tweets, retweets, and replies should focus on topics that are relevant to the companies you want to work for,” Fallon says. “You can achieve this by making use of keywords and hashtags that professionals in your field talk about and follow.”

3. Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

Though you should strive to stay active on social media, that doesn’t mean you have to create an account on every platform you can find.

“You want people to know who you are, what you do, and where you’re going,” says career expert Erin Greenawald. That means picking just one or two platforms to update regularly.

4. Stay in the Loop

Make sure that your social media profiles are linked to an email address you check every day. You don’t want to miss a promising connection because someone reached out through a defunct social media account. If you don’t already have a professional email address, head over to Gmail and create one right now!

5. Red (Google) Alert

“Google yourself to see what employers see,” career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine advises. “Set a Google Alert on your name so you check what is on the [I]nternet about you on a regular basis.”

If you have a very common name, create a more specific Google Alert that includes your hometown or field of expertise.

6. Clean Up Your Facebook

Though LinkedIn remains the most popular professional networking site, Career Glider found that over a quarter of recruiters also screen candidates through Facebook. Companies like to see engaged, active candidates, but be warned: if you’re prone to political rants, you should know that one in six recruiters said that strong political opinions were a turn off.

7. Practice Good Grammar

In the Career Glider study, two-thirds of recruiters said they would hold poor spelling and grammar against candidates. Although grammar standards on Twitter and Facebook are more relaxed than LinkedIn, you should always proofread before you post!

Remember: the Internet is forever. For better or worse, our digital selves need to make a good first impression, so be mindful of your social media profile. You never know who’s watching!

Do you have a social media success story or cautionary tale? Share it in the comments!

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