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Social media is inescapable. It is also the leading way job seekers are finding jobs. However, that doesn’t mean that anything goes online when it comes to your reputation. You need to be concerned about what an employer might find. Even when something is private, it can get in the wrong hands and worse, things last forever on the internet even if you think they’re deleted. There is no undo button so job seekers sometimes have to launch into full damage control mode. Here are a few simple things you can do to avoid the worst of it.

Google your name.

Before you can know what to do about anything you need to know what is out there. Google yourself and see what comes up. You only have to scroll through the first two or three pages since that will be about as far back as an employer will look. If you find anything that might cause a problem, add it to your browser’s favorites so you can go back and address it.

Create good content to replace the bad.

Search engines find content by checking for keywords. It keeps the most relevant information at the top. If you find something you don’t want to see, create better content that will replace it on the first three pages. This will effectively bury anything negative. The easiest way to do this is to create a blog to position yourself as an expert in your field.

Ask for removal.

If content is specifically negative, egregious, or personally dangerous you can request removal from the site owner. However, just because you’ve made a polite request doesn’t mean it will be removed. It will also remain in the internet archives and someone may still find it someday. Be polite and professional in your request so you don’t anger the website owner before they do this favor for you.

Crank up your privacy settings.

Your social media accounts, such as Facebook, have privacy settings available. Use these. While LinkedIn is considered professional networking, many people view Facebook as a place to keep up with friends and family. Set your profile with the highest security settings and a potential employer should not be able to see anything critical. However, the rule you should still follow is not to post anything online that you wouldn’t be comfortable with your mom seeing.

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