Words by Drew Parker
Illustration by Eric Platt
You are being followed. Potential employers are tracking your digital footprint, and they want to know everything about you (well, almost everything).
Ryan McNaughton, a career counselor with Kent State Career Services, said that approximately 90 percent of employers now consider each applicant’s social media presence.
“You can run but you can’t hide,” McNaughton said. “If you feel the need to be sneaky with your online presence, that says something in itself. If you can’t present yourself as you are, that’s a wake-up call to change.”
Fortunately, we’ve provided you with a guide to social media purity. Get cleaning.
Three Kent State students have made social media clean-ups easier. Using their backgrounds in computer science and electronic media, Camden Fullmer, Daniel Gur and David Steinberg developed SimpleWash, an application that searches users’ Facebook profiles for a preset list of words or phrases potential employers may find unacceptable.
The program highlights obscenities on users’ Facebook walls, status updates, tagged photos, liked pages, links, photos and comments, suggesting the user remove the content.
The students started developing the app in January during the University of Pennsylvania’s PennApps Hackathon competition, which hosted 120 teams. Hackathons are events where teams work to produce an application that is both creative and beneficial to users.
Gur said partying is part of college life and suggested students should still be able to land jobs regardless of their social lives.
“Employers may find it weird that you don’t have a presence online because you’re hiding your Facebook or other social media,” Gur said. “I was applying for internships last summer, and it took me hours to clean up my wall. We developed this so students don’t have to be punished for having fun.”
The three SimpleWash developers are now working to incorporate Instagram and Twitter into the application. Gur says they want to include a photo recognition service that will find employer “no-no’s,” like red Solo cups and beer bottles.
How to use SimpleWash
1. Go to http://simplewa.sh/login and select “get started.”
2. Log into Facebook, allowing the app to access Facebook content.
3. Select “start.” SimpleWash will highlight all questionable text. Select highlighted text to edit or delete.
Users can also identify specific words or phrases by using the custom search bar at the top of the page
Social Media Tips
- Regularly review friends and likes for inappropriate content.
- Never use privacy settings to hide content that shouldn’t be there in the first place.
- Delete photos containing any alcohol, nudity or drug use.
- Be mindful of tagged photos, as well as wall posts from others.
- Use a professional profile photo.
- Don’t exaggerate or misrepresent part-time jobs. If something isn’t impressive without excessive embellishment, leave it out.
- Complete the “additional info” and “summary” sections. Use keywords potential employers may search for.
- Refrain from requesting a connection too early. Wait until a substantial real-world connection has been made.
- Unfollow celebrities or users with a vulgar presence.
- Think before tweeting. Always.
- Refrain from posting negative tweets. Instead, tweet about positive experiences in your academic, work and personal lives.
- Use tasteful humor and displays of personality.
- Use discretion when expressing religious and political views.