Dear recent college graduates:

Hello and welcome to the big wide world! Right now, the enjoyment of your last free summer is probably starting to wane as you begin the lengthy process of applying for that dream job: $40K a year and benefits. You’ve been working on your resume, polishing up your contacts, and preparing to put your best foot forward.

Here’s the thing though, kids: remember that party you went to a few months back? The one where you did yet another keg stand and then took a body shot off of that cute sophomore? Well, your friends had cameras. And they took photos of those moments. A lot of photos. And the next day, they were e-mailed to you, and in your hungover wisdom, you put those up on your WebPage of choice. And then, well, you forgot all about them.

I want you to take your mind back now, all the way back to high school. Remember that kid you used to throw in the trash can and call a loser? Well, guess what? That kid went to college, too, and graduated in, like, 16 days, and now works for one of those companies you’re applying to. His job entails doing background checks on prospective employees. Which, in this case, means you. So, when those pictures of you in your drunken, naked glory pop up, expect a recommendation against your employment with said company. Repeat this scenario ad nauseum, and you’re looking at a shining future in the food service industry. I like my burgers medium rare, thanks.

Now, in the interest of doing you a public service, I’m going to give you a few pointers on how you can maybe prevent yourself from losing a job before you even have it.

• It works best if you think of yourself as a spy. (Before I go any further, no, you are not James Bond, so stop humming the theme song and posing in front of the mirror) When I say spy, I mean someone who makes a concerted effort to A) never get caught, as well as B) never let anyone know they were there in the first place. So do a web search on yourself with the search engine of your preference. If it takes you to any kind of social networking site with photos, rants, or views of a controversial nature, then either make them private or delete them entirely.

• Make sure you at least have a passing idea of who is or isn’t on your friends list. I can’t say for sure, but if I were a big corporation looking to investigate potential wage-slaves, I’d probably set up a couple of fake MySpace pages with suitably attractive guys/gals. I would then use said fake pages to “befriend” you, get into your photos, videos, and blogs, and see what kind of dirt you’ve got hidden. So what that means is, don’t approve that random someone who added you simply because you think they’re smokin’ hot’.

• Remain aware of your surroundings. You know how there are neighborhoods that you don’t go into without paying attention to every little detail on the chance of unfortunate events transpiring? Think of the internet as a huge neighborhood that’s like that all the freakin’ time.

Whining about how this all seems unfair or biased is really beside the point. The point is that I don’t want some bitter grad spitting in my food when I order loaded nachos because you couldn’t get the job you wanted. Exercise just the teeniest bit of intelligence and you’ll be well on your way to the BMW and gym membership that you’ve always dreamed of — with all of your skeletons safely hidden behind passwords and Friends Only barriers.