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How to Keep Embarrassing Mistakes From Ruining Your Career

When you're looking to party, social media can be your friend.

When you're looking for work, it could be your worst nightmare.

Before applying for a job and before your next interview, career management expert David McKnight has a few tips that could help.

"I would strongly suggest and recommend [that job seekers] wear a formal suit to [an] interview, regardless of the casualness of the business environment," McKnight, who founded the image and lifestyle consulting firm DAMstyle.com, told Benzinga. "This is the one time that you have to make your first -- as well as your best -- impression."

McKnight is also the author of The Zen of Executive Presence: Build Your Business Success Through Strategic Image Management, which explains how individuals can improve their style and their own executive presence.

Click through the slideshow to learn how to prevent embarrassing mistakes from ruining your career, among other essential tips from McKnight.

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this slideshow.

Posted-In: DAMStyle David McKnight Facebook LinkedIn The Zen of Executive Presence The Zen of Executive Presence: Build Your Business Success Through Strategic Image ManagementSuccess Stories Be Your Own Boss Tech Interview Best of Benzinga

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    De-Tag Yourself From Embarrassing Images

    De-Tag Yourself From Embarrassing Images

    "We all have had pictures that were posted on Facebook -- either by others or ourselves -- that weren't necessarily flattering," said McKnight.

    "It's important to be aware of those images that are out there and de-tag yourself -- remove yourself -- because some of those images do show up in searches on the Internet."

    Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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    Be Authentic And Proactive

    Be Authentic And Proactive

    If a not-so-positive image or story is out there, waiting to be uncovered, job seekers might want to be up front about the situation.

    "I think it's important to be authentic and proactive, and to say, 'You know, when I was a sophomore in college, I was involved in an incident.

    "'As a result, there's an article that you may find that's not necessarily very flattering,'" said McKnight.

    "People appreciate when you are proactive and willing to share that information."

    Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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    Don't Jump The Gun

    Don't Jump The Gun

    "At the same time, you don't want to necessarily bring something to light that may not necessarily have come up," McKnight warned.

    "Perhaps the [employer] would not have done a search."

    McKnight recommends that job seekers "navigate very delicately" around the situation.

    "And use your best judgment," McKnight added. "I think that's what it comes down to."

    Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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    Hire A Professional

    Hire A Professional

    "Just as you can hire someone to do SEO on your website and bring it to the top of Google, there are companies you can hire that can do the exact reverse -- they can push some of those [negative] images or articles down," said McKnight.

    Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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    Your LinkedIn Profile Needs A Picture

    Your LinkedIn Profile Needs A Picture

    "I would say that about eight out of 10 employers today do go to LinkedIn just to see a visual image of the person they're looking at on paper," said McKnight.

    In other words, no baseball caps in your image. No beers at a ballgame.

    The photo that appears on LinkedIn should be a professional image that makes you appear to be someone who is worthy of representing the prospective employer.

    "It's really important to nail that and get it right," McKnight added. "I've actually spoken to recruiters who said if the person doesn't have a picture, they'll put their resume at the bottom of the pile."

    Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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    Dress For The Job

    Dress For The Job

    It might be okay to wear hoodies and jeans to a startup. But if you're in a more traditional office environment, you need to dress more professionally.

    "This summer I had a very bright student working for me as an intern," said McKnight.

    "He was probably from the number-one or number-two school in the country. I won't give any names. Clearly he was very, very smart.

    "However, when it came to his image and his presentation, he really had some work to do."

    Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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    Every Detail Counts

    Every Detail Counts

    "I see a lot of young guys who just don't know very small, simple things," said McKnight.

    "For example, you're not supposed to button the bottom button of your suit."

    It's just wrong, he said. It shows a "lack of awareness."

    Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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    Think Before You Chow Down

    Think Before You Chow Down

    High-level executives may not get a job on their credentials alone.

    McKnight said that how a person eats in front of others (proper etiquette, using the right fork at the right time, etc.) is also very important.

    This is especially true if a prospective employer asks the candidate to have dinner or lunch at any point during the interview process.

    Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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    Keep Friends With Good Credit, Ditch The Rest

    Keep Friends With Good Credit, Ditch The Rest

    Earlier this year Benzinga reported that two companies (Lenddo and Kabbage) are using social media to determine if someone should receive a loan.

    These firms aren't only looking at what the prospective borrower is posting online -- they are also looking at the borrower's friends.

    This may not sound like a huge deal for those who aren't applying for a loan.

    But if social media can affect your ability to get a loan, then it could also affect your credit score.

    And your credit score isn't only used for credit anymore -- it can also affect your ability to get a job.

    Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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