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I have personal stuff all over Facebook. I don’t want a possible employer looking at this. How do I clean up my mess?

I sense the urgency in your question, since you will soon be applying for jobs. While you need to remove the negatives from FB, do not overlook the flip side. Your FB account can also be a marketing tool, giving potential employers insight into your character and abilities.

Since you were accepted at college, your FB information cannot be that bad. Admissions officers regularly check out a student applicant’s account. The best way to clean up your account is to never be in this situation. But since you are, here is what the experts recommend.

It is virtually guaranteed that a potential employer will do a search for your name on Facebook. Statistics claim that 45% of companies already do, so the true figure will be much higher. Of course, the obvious solution would be not to use your real name, but this is a violation of Facebook policy. Do not worry, any criminal lawyer will tell you it is not against any law in the U.S. to use a pseudonym online.

The first step, which everyone should do anyway for privacy and security, is to lock down your profile to private or friends only. This prevents the public and anyone without permission from viewing what is posted on your profile. Others should not be able to see your list of friends, as their posts may reflect on you.

Your profile picture goes a long way as this will be publically visible, so choose something that you want an employer to see. You do not need to be suited up, it is not LinkedIn, but try to avoid anything that shows you drinking or partying, any political allegiance, or anything too shocking. In a survey of hiring managers, over half of them identified provocative photos as a reason for not hiring a potential candidate. In the residential real estate industry more than others, your image and reputation are your sales tools. Students must learn in college that your personal conduct is as important as your degree.

Next, untag yourself. Regardless of how responsible your friends claim to be, there are posts including you that you would rather not be seen. Their profiles may well be public, so anything you are tagged in will show up too. Remove anything risqué that you would not feel comfortable showing to a boss.

Another suggestion is to prevent any posts that you are tagged in showing on your timeline without your approval. Also filter and remove things posted by other people that may show you in a bad light, such as too many pictures partying. You may want to prevent friends being able to post on your wall all together, as you have little control over what they say.

Take a look at your about page and remove anything that would not impress potential employers; use this section to show your professionalism. Include previous employers, schools and any information that may show an interest in the industry where you want to work. Set to private any information that you do not want publicly viewable.

Facebook gives people an illusory sense of being liked… Mokokoma Mokhonoana.

Nadeem Ghori is the President of Webplex, a digital analytics agency.