If you’ve ever Googled yourself, you know that you have a presence online (unless you’re really living in a social media netherworld). Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn – these networks all come together to form a complete online profile that gives practically anyone who cares to look a very public snapshot of who you are on the web.

How do you manage your online reputation? Can you reign in the amount of public information out there?

How to manage your online reputation

As an employee or potential hire, it’s worth thinking about the implications of your social profile settings. Some workers may choose to stop using social networking sites all together; for others, keeping in mind a few tips can help you manage your online profile:

1. Check your privacy settings

It’s the simplest rule of thumb, but still often forgotten. As new features and changes are made on Facebook every day, it’s important to make sure that your sharing settings are kept up to date. Meanwhile, don’t forget to check the settings on other networks you’re using such as Twitter and LinkedIn — or even your long-forgotten personal blog.

2. Think before you post

It’s not just about cleaning up your photo stream of potentially incriminating images, it’s thinking about your entire online presence. More and more potential employers are Google searching potential hires. This isn’t just to dig up dirt, but to gauge what sort of person you are – not just who you say you are in your interviews. A Twitter stream with an onslaught of #FAIL posts can make you come off as particularly negative or a bunch of lewd comments your friends have left on your Wall could raise questions about who you choose to associate with. Tools like Reppler are designed to help you manage the online sentiment in your social profiles.

3. Build your online profile and professional network

You can also take strides to actively build and develop your online profile professionally. “Like” and join professional groups that are related to your industry or start a personal/professional blog to establish your expertise in your field. Use your networks and offer to contribute or guest blog for another relevant channel – you’ll be putting your name out there and building up personal brand awareness.

Should you Facebook friend your boss?

It seems inevitable – whether you change jobs frequently or stay in one company for a number of years, eventually you may be faced with the question – should you become Facebook friends with your boss?

Offer to contribute or guest blog for a relevant channel – you’ll be putting your name out there and building up personal brand awareness.

There are of course some immediate advantages with being friends with your boss, certainly from a networking perspective. Depending on the type of boss you have, Facebook connections may simply be a part of the workplace culture, along the lines of after work drinks or team coffee catch ups. However, for more conservative workplace cultures, the implications of being Facebook friends with your boss could be different, especially when it comes to upper management. For new hires, it’s worth waiting awhile to gauge what’s appropriate before you start sending out those requests.

Remember that even if you aren’t actual Facebook friends with your boss, that doesn’t mean that they won’t be privy to what you share online – co-workers and mutual friends can be a potential source of shared information, purposeful or otherwise. The best mantra to keep in mind is to think before you post – if you wouldn’t want your boss seeing it, maybe it’s best to keep it out of the public eye.