Three years ago during my college freshman orientation one of the very first seminars I attended was “How to Clean Up Your Social Media." I attend Bentley University, which is a business school, and from the very first day we stepped on campus, the advisors and faculty ingrained in our heads the importance of professionally displaying ourselves on the internet. Social media management is everywhere at my school. Everyone is required to take a class dedicated to learning how to make a perfect LinkedIn profile, and even my sorority has strict guidelines and a contract we must sign that dictates what is considered appropriate to post.
Pause Before You Post on Social Media
In my last three and a half years at college, knowing what to post and what not to post almost comes second nature to me. However, I never really understood the importance until I began applying for summer internships, and more recently, a full-time job post-graduation. A recent study showed that 70 percent of employers screen job applicants using their social media, so it is important now more than ever before to check up on all of your online personas before you send in your resume to your dream job (Brooks, 2017).
Even if you think your account is completely private, there are still ways to see the content you post. The easiest thing is to just pause before you post to ensure that everything you’re about to share, like, tweet, or comment is tasteful and appropriate. Someone once taught me that if you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see it, then don’t post it at all. I still follow those guidelines every day.
Social Media Scanning is not Always Out to Get You
Before you panic and delete every form of social media you have, know that there are times your platforms can actually help you out rather than hurt you. When an employer is screening an applicant, they are not necessarily looking at your profiles to “catch” you. Many of the times your pictures or statuses can confirm something you already spoke to them about or support your professional qualities. For instance, if your resume says you dedicate several hours a week to volunteering at your local pet shelter and your Instagram is filled with adorable puppies, then the employer will remember that and know the information you gave them is valid.
Employers also use social media to see what other people are posting about you too. This can be beneficial since most things that are shared online about someone else are positive. However, sometimes friends can post things that were meant as jokes but could be construed as inappropriate or unprofessional. Next time you’re about to post the most embarrassing selfies you have of your friend on her Facebook wall for her birthday, maybe think twice about it.
By taking the extra second to think about what you are about to upload before you hit the “share” button you will see that it can make a huge difference, and employers will take notice. Not only will you show you have great communication skills and creativity, but you will also show employers you know how to professionally portray yourself to others. Social Media is often times your first impression to many people and you always want to put your best foot forward.
Social Media Screening Works Both Ways
One thing I did take away from my job search experience is not only how important your own social media accounts are, but also how important social media platforms are for the company you are applying to. One of the first things I do when I hear about a company or am interested in applying to a job is look at the business’ Facebook and Instagram pages. These, along with many other platforms, give myself and other candidates a look into the company that may be different from what they have on their website.
Checking out the company’s social media platforms can also give you a feel for their company culture. Websites are usually more formal and informative, but social media platforms like Twitter or Instagram can share more fun or engaging content showing you an inside peek at everyday work life. You may even earn extra brownie points during an interview if you bring up something that they shared on Facebook or retweeted on Twitter!
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Brooks, Chad. “Keep It Clean: Social Media Screenings Gain in Popularity.” Business News Daily, 16 June 2017, https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/2377-social-media-hiring.html.