by Sarah Wilkinson, Class of ’17
Dear Job-Seekers and Forward-Thinkers,
Okay, so it’s spring-time and that means Spring Cleaning, but it’s always a good time to clean up your social media presence. Don’t know where to start? With all the different social media outlets, we don’t blame you. We’ve made it easy on you…
Your social media accounts are an extension of your personal brand, whether you consciously have a brand or not. Every time you hit “post,” you’re sending a message to your followers about who you are and how you want them to see you. With that in mind, who do your followers (and potential employers who look you up) think you are? Is it the person you want them to see?
One quick way to see what an employer will see when they Google you is to Google yourself. Try typing in “first name Champlain” and see what comes up. If it’s pictures of you with beer bottles and bikinis, you might want to clean up your social media, fast.
A good rule of thumb is if you would be embarrassed for your family or a future employer to see something, don’t post it. You also have to consider that the first time you sit down with an employer for an interview, they may have already looked at your social media. That means their first impression of you is whatever you’ve recently posted.
Pictures from middle school, bathing suit photos, social gatherings where alcohol or unprofessional antics occurred – get rid of it. There’s a feature on Facebook where you can hide pictures from your timeline. That way, they’re still stored somewhere you can easily find, but no one but you can see them.
Also delete old posts that could be considered offensive or inappropriate for the image you are trying to present to employers. This will first require you to think about how you want to be perceived. Then, delete anything that doesn’t fit well with your new brand that you’ve just given yourself. Make sure all future posting matches your brand. For example, if you’ve decided you want to be seen as a young professional, don’t post lyrics from a Nicki Minaj song. Just don’t. Consider posting things of value to people in your industry, or things that reflect your kindness and compassion to others (if those are traits you want to highlight).
Same rules apply here as on Facebook. Decide who you want to be seen as and send out tweets that reflect that. I personally use my Twitter more professionally. As a writing major I retweet, quote, and post things about writing and writers. I advertise my newest blog posts and published pieces of writing and attempt to follow companies in my industry I’m interested in learning more about. Twitter is a great professional tool if you’re not too busy using it to post more Nicki Minaj lyrics.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn, get one and start connecting with other Champlain students and faculty now! It’s a great tool to begin mastering while in college so that by the time you get out into the real world, you know how to manage and utilize your network. It’s not likely you’ll have to do too much cleaning up on LinkedIn, even if you already have an account. Make sure your photo is professional, meaning preferably a non-selife taken while you were wearing professional clothing. Smiling is good but not mandatory – do whatever best reflects you as a person.
One great way to use LinkedIn if you’re lost is to congratulate your connections on new jobs and work anniversaries (which LinkedIn makes super easy to keep track of) to let people know you’re listening and invested in them. Also post relevant articles or original content of interest to people in your industry. This is a great way to get noticed by people and a way for you to potentially start conversations with them. That being said, comment on what others have posted too. You will get as much out of LinkedIn (and all social media, really) what you put in.
One great way to clean up your social media is to make all your profiles private, that way employers have to friend you to see your posts and pictures. If you’re someone who approves everyone to be your friend, no matter who you are, this method won’t help you very much. You also have to be careful because employers might look at private profiles as you trying to hide something. Transparency is always good, just make sure your page reflects the person you want people to see.
Instagram is not a social media page that most employers will look at (or even be able to find). But if brand consistency is important to you – and it should be! – then you should make sure the pictures you’re posting match up with the personal brand we created back up under the Facebook heading (remember?). No alcohol photos, no nudity. You know the drill. Puppies, are good. Post all the puppies you want.
Tumblr or personal blog:
A personal blog is a great opportunity for you post original content that really reflects you as a person and what path you’re heading down (career or personal). Employers can learn so much about your goals, fears, dreams, and interests from what you post on your blog. Obviously this means they can find out stuff you may not want them to know, so be careful. We recommend having a firm idea of your personal brand before you start posting on a personal blog, that way you don’t squander the opportunity to write and post things that put forth your best self. As you can probably tell by our blog, we also recommend WordPress as your personal blog host.
Tumblr is a deep dark hole. There’s a lot of scary stuff out there and you have to be careful if you’ve decided to wade through it. Be conscious of what you’re reblogging and posting yourself. Tumblr, like Instagram (and Twitter to a lesser degree) can be harder for employers to find because your username isn’t always your real name, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Use Tumblr to show what you’re interested in, but keep in mind that you can be interested in certain things without them ever having to appear on your page for others to see. Be sparing with that reblog button. Be aware of the messages you are sending about yourself with every move you make on social media.
If you aren’t sure what message you’re sending or what your personal brand should be, we’re always here to help. Make an appointment with your career coach here: http://www.champlain.edu/career-success/career-collaborative/meet-the-career-team. Or call 802-860-2720. We can’t wait to hear from you.
Sources: Tufts Center Career Blog