FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – You never know what could become a deal breaker when it comes to landing a new job. So, as students begin to graduate this spring and start looking for work, some experts suggest that they first clean up their social media pages online, if they have not done so already.

A tweet, status update or Instagram photo can all create a lasting first impression, even before you meet someone face-to-face. “It comes before the handshake,” said executive coach Brad Smith. “It’s really interesting how this has evolved over the last couple of years.” Smith offered some helpful tips for recent graduates.

Smith first said that grads should make a “good stuff” list of three or five things that describe your value. “You need to start with the person that you want to be,” he said.

The second tip, Smith said, is to delete those questionable posts and pictures that may litter your social media sites. Make sure you comb through all of your online profiles, and begin practicing good online behavior going foward. “Nowadays, when you apply for a position, the company, that is the next place that they go,” Smith said. “There is software out there that companies can buy. Even though you clean up your Facebook, they can still see what was on there.”

Like it or not, some potential employers will read things into the way that job candidates express themselves on social media websites. “They look at what you’re saying. They look at how you’re saying it,” Smith explained. “They look if you have grammatical errors, if you capitalize your words, and you can write coherently.”

Finally, job seekers should set up a profile on LinkedIn to kickstart a professional online presence. “Get as many recommendations as they possibly can,” said Smith, about the virtual network.

Will Hopper is a recent TCU graduate who is ready to pursue his dreams, and taking Smith’s tips to help him get there. “I really am excited to apply everything I’ve learned,” Hopper said. Like his peers, social media has been a huge part of his college life. But now, he is being more cautious about what he puts onto the web. “I don’t even like to think about it. Social media really can be so devastating.”

Being thoughtful — not impulsive — about a tweet or post could end up being the difference between getting hired and getting overlooked. Potential employers might rule out candidates — or like a candidate more — after getting to know their online personality. The bottom line is, when in doubt, just do not post.

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