With GCSE and A Level exam season now over, millions of young people are applying for jobs and hoping to enter the world of work soon for the very first time. For many, this is also the first time they have turned their thoughts to their CV, interview skills and how they present themselves to employers.
But sadly, some will already have resigned themselves to their chosen employers' "definite no" pile without even realising it - simply from what they have posted online.
A 2011 survey found that over 90 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates and 70 per cent have rejected a candidate because of something posted on a social networking site.
Who could forget 17-year old Paris Brown, Britain's first youth crime commissioner, who last year was forced to resign amid a media furore over some unpleasant and ill-thought out tweets she had posted between the ages of fourteen and sixteen.
But how many other young people do this on a daily basis?
When out on a night out after a few drinks, have you ever posted a silly (or worse - offensive) picture of yourself or your friends on Facebook? Have you ever found yourself embroiled in a nasty spat on Twitter? Or even raged from a particular political stance in a blog post or comments?
What seemed like a fleeting comment or a joke among friends online, once posted, is encoded into the digital world forever. It can return to bite you when you least expect it.
But the good news is that you can take action now to review your online profile and build a positive reputation for yourself online: one that you would be proud of an employer or potential clients seeing.
Taking care of your online reputation will ensure employers see the right kind of information about you online when you apply for a new job.
5 steps to building a great reputation online
(1) Google yourself
The first thing to do is Google yourself to find out what others see when they search for you online.
Google search works by returning what it thinks are the most relevant posts for a search term. The algorithm it uses to determine this is based on a variety of different things, including the recency and popularity of the content. Newer content with more hits ranks higher. Other factors are the number of links to the page (are others linking to it) and the credibility of the platform.
Google has recently changed its algorithms to increase the score for pages shared through social media - so your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social media pages count for a lot.
(2) Fix your privacy settings
To stop your personal photos appearing in public search results, take some time to update your privacy settings in Facebook.
Once you've removed any negative content from the web, you should put some time aside to create a greater volume of positive content about you.
(3) Set up LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ accounts
Open LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ accounts and make sure your profiles are 100% complete. Choose a professional photo of yourself, smiling and looking approachable. Take time to write a good bio, in which you list some of the search terms you'd like to be found on. If you're a freelance events manager in Sheffield, make sure this description appears in your bio (it's what a potential client will search for you on).
(4) Get blogging!
Consider setting up a blog and writing about your chosen interest area. Want to travel the world and write for Rough Guides? Write a travel blog and post fortnightly about places you've visited - it'll look much better than a cold approach and show both knowledge and experience (something employers often say graduates lack).
Write guest blogs for other websites.
Do you do any charity work? Send out a press release - see if you can get yourself in the local paper. Then blog about it.
What else do you do in your personal life that an employer or client might want to read about?
(5) Share your blog posts
Post your blog links through all your social media pages. The more traffic you get through your blog, the more chance it will appear in Google searches. Encourage people to comment on your blogs. Tweet potential employers with your blog link, asking them for their opinion.
Make a conscious effort to post information relevant to your work and the industry or sector you want to be seen to be talking about. Be generous. Share content by other people. You'll often find this reciprocated.
Doing all of these things will ensure potential employers notice you for all the right reasons.