Facebook for the Real World: How to Detox Your Profile

Are you still afraid of your parents stumbling across your Facebook profile? Pictures of Spring Break, beer bonging and trashy theme parties make up a lot of college kids’ photo albums, but once you graduate — or even start applying for jobs and internships — your parents should be the least of your worries. Facebook today has evolved into a veritable marketing and networking tool in the real world, despite its college roots. Checking Facebook is actually a common strategy that hiring managers and employers use after glancing over resumes. If you look like you’re responsible and professional online, they’ll assume you are in real life, too. The same logic can work against you, however, so use your profile to boost your personal brand and reputation, not destroy it. As cute as you think you look chugging two beers at once, you’re going to have to weed out all the tackiness and vulgarity in your Facebook profile if you want to secure your place in the working world.

Luckily, Facebook makes it easy to control your privacy settings and delete information. Go through all your own photo albums and delete pictures that are too risque for employers, even ones that don’t include you. Then, untag yourself from friends’ albums. If your college days have clouded your judgment for what’s appropriate in the real world, just imagine your grandmother’s reaction to your photos. If you’d be mortified for her to see them, they need to be removed.

After you’ve vetted the inappropriate photographs, you’re going to have to rework your profile information as well. If you still want to use Facebook to connect with friends, you can mix professionalism with a more casual tone, but your profile should still communicate truthful, relevant information about your education and work experiences. List study abroad trips, past jobs, volunteering positions, extracurriculars and appropriate interests and hobbies. Appropriate interests include traveling, cooking, hanging out with friends, and playing intramural sports, and not boozing, napping, surfing the net or participating in any illegal activities. You don’t have to copy/paste your resume to your profile, but keep it clean, honest and professional.

When you check over your profile, make sure that your contact information is updated, you’ve left groups with appalling names like "I’ve Passed Out on Murphy’s Futon," and all of your punctuation and capitalization are correct and consistent. Feel free to continue networking with friends, but also remember to delete any obscene posts anyone leaves on your wall: you’ll be guilty by association. Remember that most employers are tech-savvy just like you, and they’re used to conducting web and social media searches on job candidates. Remember the grandmother rule, and you’ll be proud to "friend" a whole new network of contacts.

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