What you don’t include on your resume may end up being more crucial in a hiring decision than what is typed up on that one or two pages. With hundreds of social media networks, blogs, forums, digital photography sharing sites, and databases, there is a plethora of information about each one of us floating freely on the Internet, accessible to anyone at the hit of a Google search.

Building a Professional Image
Naturally, we all want our most polished selves to shine through those overly important Word documents we use to express interest in coveted jobs. We do our best to word experiences and titles in the best possible way, to give our achievements a boost without forging information, and to appear mature, put together, and worthy of hiring. Back in the old days, resumes or CVs were our only tickets to the much sought after interviews, in which our natural charisma would surely blow everyone away and they would want us on their team pronto. The game has changed and not only will your resume be overlooked, but it will be questioned and compared against data that you might not have meant to include, or would ever want a potential employer to consider when evaluating you against other candidates.

What Isn’t on Your Resume May Harm You
It is difficult to control who sees or reads information that is out in the public domain. Unsecured Facebook or LinkedIn profiles, public tweets, or picture files hosted online are considered public information. If you didn’t take the time to secure something, it won’t take long before the search engine crawlers locate and index it. You do have the ability and responsibility to secure any information you do not want others accessing about you online, and it is relatively easy to do so.

Securing Your Privates from Unwanted Visitors
Locking down information you consider private or which isn’t intended for anyone but authorized parties, is plain common sense in an era, when everyone routinely Googles everyone else with the hopes of digging up some undisclosed dirt. Assuming that you don’t want to advertise your religious views, political affiliation, sexual preference, marital status, or scantily clad party photos to the world, here are the steps you can take to enact an immediate lockdown on the most commonly used social networks.

This is perhaps the most personal of all networks, due to the fact that people use it to share detailed personal facts and preferences, pictures, status updates, information about friends and other revealing facts. My advice is to keep Facebook exclusive to friends and family and to politely decline friend requests from co-workers, bosses, or strangers by stating your policy beforehand and following it consistently to minimize the number of offended parties. Limiting the access of your Facebook data to friends only or to certain friends exclusively can be done using the Privacy Settings option, under the Account dropdown. Make sure that you also update your search settings, specifying who can look for you on Facebook, add you as a friend, and send you messages.

Twitter is best not used for updates of personal nature in general, but if that is what your heart desires, you can keep your Tweets open to authorized followers only by selecting that option in the Settings / Account tab of your Twitter account. Of course, it is nearly impossible to prevent re-tweets once you have allowed users to follow you, so you never know where your tweets may end up. Best to keep it clean.

Within the Edit Profile feature of LinkedIn, you are able to access the Change Contact Settings and Change Public Profile Settings options. The former lets you select the type of contacts you prefer to receive via the network, and the latter allows you to customize the information that you want to make publicly available. When job hunting, it is advisable to bare it all (professionally, that is) on LinkedIn and enable employers to find you easily. It is also a good idea to include a link to your extensive LinkedIn profile in the contact details of your resume. Unless you have a stalker, this platform is generally safe and can be hardly incriminating, unless there are discrepancies between your LinkedIn profile and your resume. The two should be as consistent as possible, as this is one of the first places potential employers scan for additional information. You can also influence the confidence level of your hiring manager by gathering and displaying quality references from reputable sources on your profile.

Landing a New Gig
Not only can you use popular social networks to architecture your image for potential employers, colleagues, or romantic partners but you can also use them as tools for attracting those groups of people, and finding the perfect job or relationship opportunity. Think of them as digital personal ads about yourself and contemplate on the qualities and experiences that best reflect who you are and who you want to be.  LinkedIn has an excellent career search feature under the Jobs tab, which lets you search for job postings using a number of criteria. It also displays jobs that may be of interest to you based on your profile, and allows you to be introduced to job posters through existing connections. It is a bit more difficult to find jobs on Twitter, as they are not typically posted in a consistent manner across organizations, but companies routinely announce openings this way and it is best to check for relevant Tweets directly on their respective Twitter pages.

Good luck with the job search and whatever you do, don’t forget to Google yourself once in a while and to rethink your public image in light of the results. Personal branding is in, personality baring is not.