Almost every day our news feeds are full of people posting dodgy photos and comments online, which will only come back to haunt them when it's time to go job hunting.

All-time classic examples include an RAF Squadron Leader who recently thought she was sending a nude selfie to her boyfriend, but mistakenly shared it with an entire military college in Holland.

Another example of self-posted career destruction includes a senior-level PR person posting a racist tweet, before flying home to South Africa for the holidays. The tweet quickly went viral and led to her losing her job, as well as strangers around the world setting up webpages to vilify her.

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All the time I hear stories about how a quick social media search by a recruiter led to the top candidate for a role missing out on the job opportunity. We live in a world now where people are judged by one tweet, and lives are ruined by a supposedly private video suddenly going viral.

Of course, I am sure you have never done anything so ill-advised as to post a stupid comment, or naked selfie. However, even if you are "squeaky clean", it is important to be aware about what your "online tattoo" says about you and your personal brand in today's modern world.

Auditing yourself

Today it's vital we audit ourselves online to see what our perception is in the social media world.

I suggest you log out of all your accounts and then imagine yourself as a recruiter or client. Are there any Facebook or Twitter posts you have written that could be taken the wrong way? Are there any photos that you would not be happy for your mother or children to see?

Also think about other social media portals such as Myspace that you may not have used for a long time. Are all your old posts from 10 years ago, online for everyone to see?

Finally, is your email address professional sounding (not something like 'iamsexy1971') and does your voicemail on your mobile come across well? All these areas are contact points where recruiters and prospective clients will come through, when it's time to start engaging you.

Think before you post

It's vital to ensure recruiters and potential clients see only the "very best you".

Ensure you take ownership and control of your social media profile and online brand, before it's too late.

Email Tom to get his free 'Social Media Health Checklist' at tom@tomoneil.com. Tom is MD of CV.CO.NZ and TomONeil.com. Contact Tom to speak at your next event.