How to clean up social media accounts before employers see them

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If you're looking for a job, you're going to need to do a lot more than spruce up your resume. As part of their screening, potential employers will likely scour your social media accounts. (KGO-TV)

If you're looking for a job, you're going to need to do a lot more than spruce up your resume. As part of their screening, potential employers will likely scour your social media accounts.

In a partnership with Consumer Reports, 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney says there are a few things you can do to put your best cyber-foot forward.

Jeanette Torres says the first lesson she learned in Grad School was Social Media 101.

"The very first thing they told us was change your email, clean up your Facebook because we have checked, and your future employers will check also," said Jeanette Torres, who uses social media.

She's got that right. A CareerBuilder survey this year found 70 percent of potential employers used social media to screen candidates, and more than half did not hire someone because of something they saw.

"Maybe drug use, inappropriate comments, or illegal activity," shares Donna Rosato, Consumer Reports Senior Money Writer.

Of course, there are limits on how they can use what they find. Federal law bars employers from considering a person's race, religion, disability, or age when weighing candidates, even if they glean that information on Facebook.

Other rules vary state by state. It's against the law in some states for interviewers to ask you for your passwords.

Others might resort to something called shoulder surfing. "That is when the employer will have you open up your social media account and literally stand over your shoulder checking out your page," said Rosato.

"I'm not comfortable with that," admits Torres.

Still, one way or another, potential employers will be looking. So Torres polished her profile, starting with pictures.

"I put on my professional cap on, and I looked through my profile pictures and I said, I don't know, I kind of took that when I was 16," she said. "And I'm really not the same person."

As for photos other people post of you, you can't delete them, but you can un-tag yourself. You can also use your page to carefully craft the image you want employers to see.

"For example, maybe you do a lot of volunteer work," said Donna Rosato.

In other words, accentuate the positive, and eliminate and un-tag the negative.

Remember, your profile picture and your email address are the first thing employers will see, so make sure both are professional.

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