Last year around this time I read an article in the New York Times about graduating senior Tien Nguyen (Note: See BugMeNot for access) who was “smokin’ blunts” on Facebook and “lying his way to the top” on Google.

When a small consulting company in Chicago was looking to hire a summer intern this month, the company’s president went online to check on a promising candidate who had just graduated from the University of Illinois.

At Facebook, a popular social networking site, the executive found the candidate’s Web page with this description of his interests: “smokin’ blunts” (cigars hollowed out and stuffed with marijuana), shooting people and obsessive sex, all described in vivid slang.

It did not matter that the student was clearly posturing. He was done.

“I never really considered that employers would do something like that,” [Nguyen] said. “I thought they would just look at your résumé and grades.”

Yep, this is for reals, kids. Scary stuff. Employers look at your Facebook, and they’ll Google your name. But, not all is lost. Read on for a few tips on (1) Cleaning up your Facebook –or at least making it private and (2) Keeping track of what Google has to say about you.

Step 1. Clean up or keep ‘em out.
My easy question has always been, “Do I want my parents seeing this?” If not, a future employer doesn’t want to either. Get rid of the alcohol and drugs and get rid of the sexual commentary.


  • Go through your photo albums and check “delete”.

  • Go through your Wall-to-Walls and click “delete”.

  • Go through your groups and click “leave”.

  • And go through your profile.

Harsh, I know. The only other way is to be paranoid and keep everyone out by using the privacy settings. InternetDuctTape.com has a good guide for that.

Step 2. Google yourself and see what they see.
I have a confession to make. Even I do this once in a while. I Google myself, sure, but I’ve also Google-ed my dates, haha.

Go to Google and type in "FirstName LastName" –with the quotation marks. If your name is shared with a couple hundred people, you probably don’t have anything to worry about. It’s too muddled. If you’ve got a unique name, do you like what you see? If not, contact the particular website(s) and try to get your name off. It’s worth a try.

Step 3. Keep it up.
On Facebook, instead of posting those drinking pictures, why not just send an email? Instead of making that sexual reference, why not send a private message?

On Google, you can sign up for Google Alerts that will email you each time another hit comes up for your search term.

And that’s all I’ve got. Any other tips?