Social Media College Keynote Presentation: Don’t let your Social Network Profiles Haunt Your Job Search

I love speaking to College students about social media because they are such avid users of social networking tools, but they often don’t think about the potential consequences of what they post. The reality is that what you post on your Facebook page (or what your friends post) can come back and haunt you as you think about entering the job market. Even if you keep you Facebook profile private you still run the risk of having employers see the contents of it. When you think about what is at stake (not landing your dream job), you may want to take some time to think about your profile. Even if you don’t post things that are obviously inappropriate, many students fail to step back and think about how your profiles reflect upon you as a person. When I speak to college students, these are some of the tips that I share:

1. Assume Everything You Post Is Public

Whenever you post anything to the internet, always assume that everything is public and can not be deleted. Even if you control your privacy settings, information has a way of traveling on the net. Make sure that you are ok with everything being public.

2. Set Expectations with Your Friends

Even if you don’t post inappropriate things on your profile, your friends might post pictures of you on theirs. Set expectations with your friends about what photos or comments are appropriate. The problem with Facebook is that people don’t post photos when you are studying and getting good grades, they post photos of parties or funny pranks. While this may all be in good fun, it might not be something that you want on the internet. Let your friends know what is and isn’t ok to post.

3. Make your Photos “Job appropriate”

Take a look through your Facebook photos and make sure that they are appropriate for someone entering the job market. It is ok to have photos at parties and having fun with your friends, but make sure that there is nothing that could prevent you from getting a job. A friend of mine is a recruiter had a college student who didn’t get a job offer because his Facebook picture showed him peeing his name in the snow. Also, make sure that there are no underage drinking photos, photos where you are breaking the law or overly sexual photos in your profile. While employers may know that you have a private life and like to have fun, sharing photos like this on the internet can be considered poor judgment.

4. Create professional social network profiles.

You don’t have to create a fake Facebook account for potential employers, but you may want to create profiles on professional social networks that you can direct employers to. This shows that you are serious about getting a job and are committed. Create a profile on LinkedIn (even if you don’t have a lot of experience) to show your professional accomplishments and interests. You may also want to consider creating a Google Profile (which will show up in G+) with a more professional profile.

5. Clean up a Bit

Think of your Facebook page as your living room, if your boss might be coming over you wouldn’t rent a fake house, but you would clean up a little bit. Think about sanitizing your Facebook page to make it employer-appropriate.

6. BALANCE your content

One of the biggest problems with most Facebook pages is the balance of posts. We tend to post about the class we hate or the person who annoys us vs. the positive things. Step back and look at your Facebook profile as an outsider. What impression does it create? Does it accurately reflect who you are? I recently spoke to students about their social network profiles, and a girl said that she often talks about the other students that she doesn’t like on her Facebook page. I asked her what kind of an impression a stranger would have – even another student, a potential boyfriend or a friend – and she said that most people would think that she was a (insert word I can’t repeat). She seemed like a nice girl. Think about the image that your social network creates about you and try to create balance. For every mean thing that you say, try to say 2 nice things. These are just a few of the tips from my presentation.

Do you have any tips that you like to share?

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