By: Shauna Zamarripa

In a technologically centric world, your personal information is both visible and accessible. In addition to this, it is now also able to hurt or help you professionally. Like it or not, social media outlets have made everyone in the world more visible and accessible to just about anyone, anywhere, for any reason. This exposure has virtually (no pun intended) blurred the lines between private matters and public domain, and Facebook accounts are no exception.

 

How Facebook Impacts Your Online Reputation

 

Today, your public reputation is made up of much more than just your thoughts, deeds and actions. It is more than just your comments, status updates and photos. Your public reputation is now directly connected to the people you are friends with online, in addition to their social media activities. Unfortunately, this can be bad news for most Facebook users who don’t lock down their list of online pals.

For example, if you were to post a status update and walk away, only to have commentators get into an argument or do nothing but take snarky digs at your update for the next half hour, that becomes a direct reflection of who you are hanging around with to potential recruiters, and that reflection isn’t good.=

Microsoft commissioned a study on Online Reputation, surveying numerous U.S. recruiters and HR professionals all around the United States. In this study, over 85 percent of the professionals surveyed admitted that they check out, and form opinions on, potential hires on the web before they even schedule an interview, and they confessed to using social media as a proving ground. If your phone isn’t ringing, it might be time to clean up your friend list.

 

Facebook Groups Paint a Picture

 

Another area of your public domain is also reflected in the online groups you belong to. Employers and recruiters will look at these groups, and will form an opinion on you based on your membership.

For example, if you are a member of groups that promote drug use or socially unacceptable behavior, that will hurt your chances of getting a job almost always. On the flip side, if you are a member of groups heavy with professionals that enrich your career goals, that bodes well in your online persona.

Make sure to review the groups you belong to regularly, and remove yourself from any unsavory associations.

 

Improving Your Professional Persona

 

If you want the lines of separation between your personal and professional lives to remain intact, you need to do your homework when it comes to Facebook’s privacy settings. Facebook has a variety of privacy settings, allowing you to customize who gets to see what, whenever you post. This can be an effective way of allowing you to be yourself without compromising your professional integrity. If you post something controversial, make sure that only your inner circle has access to it.

 

Being Mindful of Your Social Media Persona

 

Research shows that only about 18% of people who find a job are hired though online job postings. That could be a direct reflection of the impact of social media in the job market, or it might just be the new trend. Either way, you can never be too careful. Always be mindful of what your online persona says about you. Think about what a recruiter or employer would see if he or she went to your Facebook page for a visit. Adjust and modify your online life to create good preconceptions in place of bad ones, and your job search might just be that much easier.