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Networking and Social Media: Cleaning Up Your Digital Footprint

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Getting a job is as much about who you know as what skills and professional experience you have. Thanks to the proliferation of social media, you don't have to rely on face-to-face networking to meet people who have a lead on a good job. Today, more job seekers are tapping into their networks on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other sites to look for work.

Many out-of-work Americans have realized that using social media can help them find their next job. In fact, LinkedIn saw traffic increase 174% since the recession according to a DMNews report.

"It's harder to find jobs and times are tough," said Matt Hicks, a spokesman for Facebook. "People naturally want to stay in touch with the network not only to find the next job, but even to get advice."

What's more, employers are turning to social media to look for applicants who have the qualifications and skills necessary to fit open positions they may have.

"Not only are employers looking for better candidates, but ones that are well versed in social media and seeking out opportunities," said Sandra Fathi, a social media expert, in a CNNMoney.com report. Fathi added, "These mediums are here to stay."

Before your start using your digital networks to find a job, you have to clean up your online persona. Follow these tips to make sure your profiles don't scare off potential employers:

Google Yourself

Google is by far the most commonly used search engine, and if any unsavory online habbits or content of yours might turn up, Google is where people will most likely find that information. You may want to try a few other search engines too, like Yahoo! and Bing just to be thorough. Does anything potentially damaging turn up? If so, consider contacting any sites where you found the information and ask to have it removed.

Assess Your Social Media Profiles

Have you posted stories or photographs on sites like Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr that could turn off a prospective employer? Have friends posted any potentially damaging information that could somehow be associated with you? Are you a member of any Facebook groups whose names and activities could be deemed suspect? Have you taken part in a nasty argument over Twitter?

When in doubt, take it out.

Do a Content Inventory of Your Personal Web Site or Blog

Have you written about, thus sharing with the world, any topics or experiences that might give a prospective or current employer pause?

Your online network is an important tool in your job-search arsenal. Don't let a bad online profile keep you from getting a job. Military.com's Veterans Career Network can help connect you to other transitioning servicemembers and veterans who can help you find a job or give you job searching advice.

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