Clean up your online profile when job hunting

Getting a job is as much about who you know as what skills and professional experience you have. Thanks to the proliferation of social media, you don't have to rely on face-to-face networking to meet people who have a lead on a good job. Today, more job seekers are tapping into their networks on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites to look for work.

Many out-of-work Americans have realized that using social media can help them find their next job. In fact, LinkedIn saw traffic increase 174 percent since the recession according to a DMNews report.

"It's harder to find jobs and times are tough," said Matt Hicks, a spokesman for Facebook. "People naturally want to stay in touch with the network, not only to find the next job but even to get advice."

Employers are also turning to social media to look for applicants who have the qualifications and skills necessary to fit open positions they may have.

"Not only are employers looking for better candidates, but ones that are well versed in social media and seeking out opportunities," said Sandra Fathi, a social media expert, in a report. "These mediums are here to stay."

Before you start using your digital networks to find a job, you have to clean up your online persona. Follow these tips to make sure your profiles don't scare off potential employers:

Google yourself. Google is by far the most commonly used search engine, and if any unsavory online habbits or content of yours might turn up, Google is where people will most likely find that information. You may want to try a few other search engines too, like Yahoo and Bing just to be thorough. Does anything potentially damaging turn up? If so, consider contacting any sites where you found the information and ask to have it removed.

Assess your social media profiles. Have you posted stories or photographs on sites like Facebook, Instagram or Tumblr that could turn off a prospective employer? Have friends posted any potentially damaging information that could somehow be associated with you? Are you a member of any Facebook groups whose names and activities could be deemed suspect? Have you taken part in a nasty argument onT Twitter?

When in doubt, take it out.