Social media is fun! You can stay connected with your friends, laugh at the funniest videos, post the most outrageous pictures, find a job, locate a restaurant, and reconnect with old friends. The list is endless!

Another thing that’s endless—is its memory. Unfortunately for you, the Internet and its social playmates have much better recollection than you or I and it “unfairly” shares it with whomever is skilled enough to type your name into Google’s search box. Ugh.

Accordingly to a recent survey my company milewalk conducted, over 85% of companies (more than 200 responding) take the time to peek online at their job candidates (and employees). This can include a quick glance at your LinkedIn profile, a more thorough search of each of the major social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or a search that unfortunately covers all sites and your arrest record(s). Ouch!

This seems to go hand-in-hand (eh, foot-in-mouth) with the fact that according to several surveys conducted last year (Pew Research Social Media Update, Fact Sheet) social media usage is not surprisingly on the rise and providing potential employers with additional, advanced insight to their possible employees.

Whether you’re looking for a new job, cleaning up your overall online brand, or getting ready to establish your new “social platform,” here are some basic DOs that will help deodorize your social history.

Google yourself to see what others see. That means searching for your full name, nickname, aliases and whatever else anyone has ever called you. There are print stories, Web stories, Images, Videos (ouch), and so on. Don’t miss anything. Whatever you do, make sure you start “crafting” explanations for anything that makes you cringe. For example, I often tell people the camera added a few (thousand) gray hairs whenever I did a television feature without my beard. It’s completely true. Same for radio programs.

Clean up whatever photos and other, uh, content that is delete-able. Some of it will be. Some, not so much. Purge aggressively.

Update—as in constantly update—your privacy settings on all sites. It’s extremely difficult to keep up with the social media sites’ privacy settings because they continually change them. Even so, periodically, view your own social profiles as the “public” would see them. This is often extremely easy to do as Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to do this right on your main profile page. Twitter, on the other hand, is always public. Watch what you tweet!

Smile for the camera. After you’ve purged all the unflattering pictures you’ve managed to locate via your Google searching, update your social media profiles with appropriate pictures. For LinkedIn, for example, update your profile picture so it is professionally appropriate. If you’re a pet-store owner, a picture with your dog makes sense. If you’re the Human Resources Director (for any company), a profile picture with a beer in your hand does not. (I actually viewed the latter, which is what made typing that thought so easy. I actually wish I could write one blog post where I actually reveal everything that goes through my head as I write it. How fun would that be?)

Promote yourself appropriately. As socially repulsive as that previous sentence sounded, it’s certainly a-okay to share your knowledge with the world. You would be absolutely amazed at the number of articles I personally read daily on the widest array of topics in the broadest ranges of places. I want to learn! So do many others in the world. If they want to learn, they will likely find you. You, oddly, don’t need to find them. That’s the beauty of putting your content out there. Just put it in the right places. Make it valuable with the appropriate content and etiquette. And, most importantly, put a pretty little picture next to it. 🙂

If you enjoyed this article, you can find other wonderful tips and tricks related to life and work via the usual social spots at LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

As always, I give away a complimentary Interview Intervention eBook if you sign up for the milewalk newsletter on the front page of the milewalk Website!

In other exciting news, The Hiring Prophecies: Psychology behind Recruiting Successful Employees is now for sale!