For students who are starting a career, social media can help them get an internship or job, or it can cause a potential employer to choose another candidate.
Keith Soster, Director of Student Engagement at U-M, and Kate Glahn, Marketing Communications Specialist in Student Life Auxiliary Marketing, offer these tips that you can share with your student to help them put their best foot forward on social media:
- Google yourself -- See what potential employers will find if they search for you.
- Shine! Make sure your accomplishments are visible. Examples include volunteer activities, participation in a career-related or charitable organization, awards, etc. Try accomplishing this by starting a blog, posting tweets, or using a public Facebook status or Instagram.
- Remove any negative posts or photos, even those where you are tagged. Remove red beer cups and negative memes. Potential employers do look at social media and do judge by the company you keep.
- Present yourself well -- make sure your social media accounts reflect a responsible, kind and mature individual. Employers do "creep" on potential employees. Keep the selfies to a minimum (too many may suggest you are self-centered) and avoid snark if possible. Having an alias may or may not protect you. It's remarkably easy to track people down on social media, even if they are hiding behind another name on different accounts. You may not want potential employers to identify you as "Rasta Dude."
- Do research -- When you have an interview, prepare by using the most significant benefit of the internet: easy access to the social media of the companies/organizations where you are interviewing. By looking at the company’s social media, you can learn about the messaging the organization is focusing on, and be able to refer to specific events the company has sponsored, giveaways, etc. during the interview. It shows you are smart, that you do your research and that you are social media savvy.
- Watch phone etiquette. When in professional situations, whether an interview, a meeting or a networking event, put the phone away. If you have to answer a call or reply to an important text, excuse yourself and step away, e.g. go to the restroom. A phone on the table implies that there may be something more important than the meeting, and it's rude towards others in the room. It also implies authority, which should not be the case.
- Let someone monitor your social media accounts. Friends and family members can privately let you know if something you post comes across negatively.
- Check privacy settings. Make sure you know what your privacy settings are on all social media.
- Set up a Google Alert in your name so that if someone tags you in a photo, you are immediately aware.
Social media can be fun, but when it’s time to start a new career, it is also a place to remain professional.
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