WindowsAs you all probably already know, social media profiling went mainstream a while ago. Everyone does it: recruiters, your friends, your enemies, and even your government.

Most of this profiling and surveillance probably won’t affect you too much, but the social media research performed by recruiters and hiring managers will probably have a material impact on your career. Figures from Jobvite’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey show that 93 percent of recruiters review social media profiles before hiring a canidate.

If you are an ambitious job seeker or career professional, it behooves you to not only clean up your social media profiles, but also optimize them regularly so they project the strongest image of you to recruiters and hiring managers. Your social media profile should be designed not to impress your friends, but to impress hiring managers and recruiters. To that end, here are some tips on cleaning up your social media footprint.

Deal With the Negative Content

What kinds of things impress recruiters? As you’ve probably guessed, it’s the boring stuff. While we recruiters and hiring managers might happily belly up to the bar with you on any other day, we lose our sense of humor when it comes to screening candidates.

The Jobvite survey found that 55 percent of recruiters have reconsidered a candidate due to content found on their social media profile, with 61 percent of those reconsiderations being negative. Among the things recruiters don’t want to see on your social profiles are profanity (63 percent), sexual content (70 percent), and references to illegal drugs (83 percent), guns (51 percent), or alcohol (44 percent). This is high-risk content that (rightly or wrongly) harms your social media profile. If have such content in your social media footprint, you might want to remove it.

Removing content may require more than just deleting posts from your profile. The negative information may be hosted on other sites, perhaps within a blog post, comment, photo, or video. You may need to politely write to the site owner and request that they take the information down.

If you live in Europe, you may also need to submit a “forget me” request to Google to remove links to undesirable content.

You also should start producing more career-relevant and positive content and publishing it on your social media profiles. This will hopefully rise to the top of search engine results, burying the older, more negative content you have on display.

Optimize Your Profile With Positive Content

Apart from obvious skills-related information, the kinds of positive information that will reflect well in your social media profile are links to industry-related posts (88 percent of recruiters said such posts cast candidates in a positive light), which show you are engaged with and passionate about the industry or profession in which you work or aspire to work. Recruiters also look for evidence of mutual connections (93 percent) and cultural fit (80 percent).

To optimize your social media profile, you might want to replace any negative content with content that will be positive for your career. This could involve writing and/or commenting regularly on industry-related blog posts, building up connections that are likely to be known and respected by hiring managers in your industry, and highlighting any cultural fit information. For example, if you always target ethical employers with an emphasis on work-life balance, make sure this ethos is reflected in your profile.

The Jobvite survey shows that 65 percent of employers view volunteering and donating to charity as very positive, so engaging in and writing about your philanthropic activities will reflect very positively on you.

I’d like to hear from recruiters and hiring managers about the kinds of social media profile content that makes a candidate shine — or perhaps bomb.

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