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Yes, Your Social Media Account Could Ruin Your Career

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on August 13, 2012 6:45 AM

Ranting and raving online is all the rage, but free speech can be costly for lawyers and law students. That's why you may want to clean up your social media accounts before they affect the status of your career.

The reasons are obvious: HR managers are increasingly looking at online profiles to make hiring decisions, while current and potential clients may pass judgment on your skills based on something you post to your networks.

With several years' worth of tweets and status updates to potentially clean up, what's the best way to go about it? Here are five tips to get you started:

  1. Start with Twitter, one marketing agency called IMPACT recommends. Since Twitter's launch in 2006, it's evolved from a way to send snide comments to friends to become one of the top mass-marketing methods around. Lawyers will want to consider deleting unprofessional tweets, or starting fresh with a new Twitter handle, in cleaning up social media accounts.
  2. Filter Facebook and delete any pictures of you using alcohol, making rude gestures, or engaging in anything illegal, IMPACT suggests. Also unsubscribe from, or unlike, any third-party accounts that could suggest bias or bigotry.
  3. Look at LinkedIn, making sure your professional resume is accurate. A formal-looking photo is more appropriate than a party pic, since LinkedIn is all about business. Make sure the articles and comments you share are businesslike as well.
  4. Scrutinize other sites like Reddit, Fark, and Google+ for similar unprofessional links, posts, and pictures that may come back to bite you.
  5. Finally, Google yourself. This is what recruiters and potential clients do, but don't forget other search engines like Yahoo! and Bing. Focus on the first page of results, as employers rarely look beyond that, one expert told Bankrate.com. Search results can alert you to possible blemishes you may have missed in cleaning up your social media accounts.

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