Social media is a great way to connect with people, but it can also cause all kinds of headaches that could come back to haunt you, especially if you're looking for a job.
A new study by legal information site FindLaw.com reveals 1 in 3 young professionals regret past posts, fearing they could cost them a job.
"If you're looking for a job, the last thing you want is to leave a negative impression, or worse yet, is to start with one," said Bo Carrington, a senior consultant with Hayes Group International.
Before becoming a consultant, Carrington spent 20 years in human resources.
He said it's not uncommon for employers to search social media sites looking for details about job candidates.
"Given the access to information and the goal of making really solid hires, because of the cost associated with bad hires, as a hiring professional, I'm going to want to know as much as I can about somebody," Carrington said. "So I'm going to do my due-diligence and that may end up requiring me to look on LinkedIn, Facebook, Yahoo, Google Circles or whatever. It's amazing what I can find out about people if I really want to find out about them."
All too often, young professionals are starting off their job search giving potential employers a bad impression based on what they've posted online.
Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can provide a lot of insight for hiring managers.
It's no wonder the FindLaw.com study found 29 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds regret past posts fearing they could cost them a job. The same study revealed 21 percent of those surveyed had taken down at least some posts or information because of concerns about employment prospects.
It seems they have good reason to worry, another survey by analyst firm On Device Research revealed 1 in 10 young job hunters have been rejected based on their social media posts.
"It can impact the hiring official because it can form a bias," Carrington said. "Whether that's really you talking or whether it's you taking on a persona to make a point, the person on the other end that's reading it doesn't really know."
Carrington suggests job seekers lock down their social media accounts using privacy settings and removing questionable posts. He said it's also a good idea to Google yourself occasionally to see what others might find out about your online life.
On the flip side, Carrington said there are plenty of job seekers using social media to their advantage by boosting their image.
"And a lot of people are doing that now," Carrington said. "You're seeing very focused efforts where people will go in they'll blog or they'll do other things to bring awareness about who they are and what they believe."
The bottom line, you need to think of yourself as a brand name.
"Everything that we put out there on the internet could potentially positively or negatively impact our personal brand."