Be Smart About Social Networking

Facebook reports having more than 400 million active users, with 50%—that's 200 million users—logging on daily. Twitter has 75 million user accounts, and LinkedIn has more than 50 million members worldwide.

There is no denying that social media use has exploded. It makes sense to be online.

But to do so is to make your personal information publicly available. The latest research from Cross-Tab, a market research firm, reveals that about 80% of U.S. recruiters and HR professionals screen candidates' online reputation, and 70% have rejected them based on what they've found.

As a young adult using social media, you must be careful what you post to public profiles. Here is a list of suggestions from Dan Schawbel, personal branding expert for Gen Y and author of "Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success":

  • Join the "big three" networks: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

  • Consider how you want to position yourself, and then create your profiles to reflect this personal brand.

  • Use the same full name and picture on all social networks.

  • Use Twitter to make initial contact by following someone, retweeting them, or sending a direct message. Then take those connections to other online platforms.

  • Use privacy settings if you choose not to use a particular network for professional use.

  • For your posts: Share successes, post interesting articles, showcase achievements, or share something from an organization you're involved with—anything that strengthens your presence.

  • Monitor your image. Search yourself online, and set up a Google alert for your full name and any nicknames or common misspellings.

  • It may be obvious, but must be said: Don't post damaging pictures or posts.