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Working WildCat: Seven steps for keeping a professional social media presence

Ariel Hernandez

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Ariel Hernandez

Ariel Hernandez

College is a time filled with nights to never forget and nights you never fully remember. These harmless college memories have a tendency to creep into Twitter feeds, Instagram photos and Facebook posts. But are these updates really that harmless?

A survey from 2012 by CareerBuilder found that 37 percent of employers use social networking sites to research potential applicants, with an additional 11 percent planning to start soon. If you’re looking for a career after graduation, a part-time job to pay the bills, or an internship to boost your resume, here are some tips to keep your social networking feeds recruiter-friendly:

 

1. First impressions matter.If you’re sending out your resume to various companies, be aware that they may research you before they ever contact you. Even if your profiles are set to private, employers can still see your profile picture. First impressions are lasting impressions. Make sure you display yourself in a way you want to be remembered.

2. Think before you post. Before you post a picture think, “Would I want an employer to see this?” Though doing a keg stand may seem Instagram-worthy, it may not be impressive to the recruiter of your dream job.

3. “Untagging” isn’t enough. If your friends post something about you from last night’s escapades, ask them to take it down. A potential employer may look through your friends list to find out more about you.

4. No ranting. If you have a bad day, venting can help. However, social media isn’t the place to do so. Find a friend, a roommate or call your parents, but don’t rant on a feed. What might make you feel better for the next few days may cost you a job in the next few weeks.

5. Learn each site’s privacy settings. You may think that your content is private, but what you are displaying may not be as hidden as you think. As a previous recruiter, it was relatively easy to see much further into a profile than the applicant anticipated.

It’s best to search your name and username in quotation marks in a search engine. Do it from a computer that doesn’t have any of your information stored so that you can see it from a stranger’s eye.

If you don’t like what you’re finding, change it. Once you have updated your privacy settings, look again. Better yet, don’t post anything you need to hide.

6. Keep your username consistent and appropriate. Think of your social media accounts as your online brand, so try and keep your username the same among various sites. Make sure your username is professional. “Partyalways78” might sound like a good idea, but it isn’t something you want to brand yourself as, especially if potential employers are searching for you. It’s best if you use some combination of your first or last name.

7. Keep your accounts current. If you haven’t been on an account in awhile, go check it out. If it’s been a few years, maybe it’s time to delete that account. Just because it’s been two years since you were photographed drunk in a bar, it doesn’t mean that your employer knows that photograph doesn’t represent your life currently.

We have become a generation that wants to share everything with everyone, but remember that what looks fun to you may look irresponsible to someone else.

Ariel Hernandez can be reached at[email protected] or @ariel7hernandez on Twitter.

 

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Working WildCat: Seven steps for keeping a professional social media presence