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Erase Your (Online) Past to Save Your Career


You’ve lived out your younger years and now it’s finally time to be an adult. So how do you ensure that your (online) past doesn’t come back to haunt you and ruin your new, squeaky-clean reputation? We’ll show you how to delete your social media profiles to get a fresh start as you embark on your career path.

delete the past

(Photo Credit: katerha/Flickr)


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Unfortunately, in today’s social sharing age, Facebook has made it incredibly easy and possible to document every single aspect of a person’s life – the good, bad, and terribly ugly. And, to make matters worse, Facebook Graph Search makes it’s easier than ever for employers to locate anything that you have been tagged in or affiliated with simply by typing your name in the search box. So, despite you going through hoops to erase all evidence of your less-than-perfect past, there is a chance that your friends have tagged you in content on their profiles that can be easily retrieved by hiring managers. You have two options when it comes to erasing your profile:

Deactivate: This option is for people who just want to make their accounts disappear temporarily but want their information to be saved. In other words, deactivating your Facebook account makes it dormant, erasing your profile from being seen and your name unsearchable. If you do choose to return to the original social network, then all you have to do is log in to your account again and reactivate it — your entire profile will reappear with all the original content.

Permanently Delete: For those who just want it all to go away forever, then this is the option for you. This is the “there’s no going back” option that will permanently delete your profile without any option to recover your original information or content. If you are considering this option, you might want to consider downloading a copy of your information first, then getting rid of the evidence afterward.


This social sharing site, in particular, seems to be the network of choice for high-profile celebrities and politicians to publicly embarrass themselves and end their careers. So it’s understandable that professionals would fear the same outcome, should the wrong tweet or picture make it into the hands of an employer. If you are one of the many people who are guilty of a careless (and potential career-threatening) tweet or two, then you’re in luck, because Twitter makes it incredibly easy to erase your past in the Twitter-verse. A fresh start is just a click away.

Deleting your Twitter account:

  1. Go to your Account Settings page.
  2. Scroll down to the bottom of the page.
  3. Click on “Deactivate my account” at the bottom.
  4. Read the deactivation disclosure, then click “Okay, fine, deactivate account.”
  5. Enter your password when prompted.
  6. The end.

Note: You have 30 days to change your mind and reactivate your account. If regret happens to seep in on day 31, then you must fill out this support request form to reactivate your account.


This professional networking site is less likely to be a career-ender than Twitter or Facebook, but there may be different reasons you’d want to delete your LinkedIn profile. Regardless of whether you’re fed up with the pesky emails, or just don’t want to be “connected” anymore, here are the three steps to follow to rid yourself of your LinkedIn account:

  1. Move your cursor over your photo in the upper right of your homepage and select Privacy & Settings. (You may be prompted to sign in to your account again to get to your settings.) 
  2. Click the Account side tab next to the shield icon near the bottom left of the page.
  3. Under the Helpful Links section, select “Close your account

(Source: LinkedIn Help Center)

The good news about trying to rid yourself of your dark past is there’s a delete button to erase it all away. But the bad news is that the internet is forever, so nothing is really gone completely. Sorry, but those tiny digital nuggets of your younger years will forever be floating around in internet space, just not so easily accessible by the public’s eye. Do what you can to give yourself a fresh start so that you can move forward in your career without shame or regret lingering over your head.

Tell Us What You Think

Are you teetering on the fence about whether or not to delete your social media accounts for career purposes? Share your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments section below. 

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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