Students looking for a career should know what their “online footprint” looks like and how they come across professionally. A simple Google search will show you what an employer will see (and a potential employer WILL look for you on the internet). If you have social media profiles, they will appear in a Google search unless privacy settings prevent it.
If you do not already have a social media profile, I don’t suggest creating one for the purpose of a job search…UNLESS the jobs you are seeking are with companies who appear to value social media (e.g., a radio station, a PR firm, or Google are going to want to see that you have a good grasp on social media outlets!). More companies these days want to see a social media presence, because that is the medium they use for a lot of their marketing.
LinkedIn is a different sort of social media platform – much more professional than Facebook. Since most jobs are acquired through networking, I DO suggest creating and maintaining a professional LinkedIn page for anyone looking for a career.
If you already use social media platforms, I suggest activating privacy settings first. Then, make sure that anything that appears on the profile is something you want the employer to see. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, a blog, or a personal webpage, the company wants to know that you will represent it honorably. Have a “non-friend” do a search so that you see what your potential employer might see.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that once something is online, it’s there forever. No matter what your privacy settings, any photo, post, comment, or tweet is recorded permanently in cyberspace, and it’s a challenge to keep up with the privacy agreements on those social media sites. While you can’t remove things from the internet, you CAN make an effort to change the tone of your online presence over time. Make sure the things you post online are things you want your future employer to see.
By Jen Conole, RWU Career Advisor