It is widely known that social media plays an active role in the lives of college students. As useful as Facebook, Twitter and other social networks may be, it is crucial to remember that the content you put on the internet has the ability to shape other’s opinions and perceptions of you — most notably employers. Rather than risk being rejected from a job or internship due to inappropriate media content, spend some time creating a positive and professional online presence. Here’s how:
Before going through each of your social medias, start by doing a general search of yourself on Google or any other popular search engine to see what information comes up. This will help you to gain a general idea of what information is immediately available to employers.
Next, take time to consider what social networking sites you use on a regular basis and which are truly necessary. Sites that are used less frequently (Myspace?) but still have active accounts on may be better off deactivated if they are no longer useful.
Take the time to go through each of the following social networking sites if you have accounts on them:
The first thing any student should do is to check their privacy settings and make sure all their content is set to “friends only.” Many students are under the impression that changing their display name will keep employers from finding them under search engines. However, a number of employers will search for applicants through their emails and other forms of identity. As a result, making things like your profile picture, cover photos and basic information classy and respectable will help.
With Twitter becoming increasingly popular and frequently used by companies as a form of marketing, it is important to review your account for any undesirable content. Protecting your tweets is often the safest way to go, however if you do chose to keep your tweets public make sure they are appropriate and show your wide range of interests.
Arriving onto the social media scene nearly three years ago, Instagram has become a must have for iPhone bearing college students. Making sure your photos are appropriate for employers is easier to do on Instagram as users often have fewer photos than other social networks. Even if you are of the legal drinking age, pictures involving alcohol should be monitored as employers can sometimes view it as unprofessional.
Even though most of the content on these two social media sites do not consist of user generated content, it’s important to realize that what you re-blog or pin can be seen by employers and send a message about who you are as a potential candidate. For Tumblr or any other blog-related sites, make sure your pictures and posts are both appropriate and positive. For Pinterest, if you have boards that you may not want employers seeing, there is always the option to create a secret board.
Overall it is important to realize that potential employers want to see you have an active online persona. Deleting all your social media accounts or even setting extreme privacy settings may send the message to employers that you have something to hide. Keep your photos classy and make sure they are an accurate representation of who you are.