Social media can be a blessing and a curse. Although Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ allow us to share and stay connected to friends, they also now serve as the first impression we make on potential employers.
For most people, college is the time in their lives when they are the most likely to be photographed in somewhat comprising situations. Even if you’re just a face in the crowd of a large group that’s clearly partying hard, that’s probably not a shot you want your new boss peering over.
Plenty has been written, however, about what NOT to put on Facebook. After you’ve done a full scrub of your various social media profiles, de-tagging yourself as you go, it’s time to get proactive.
Think of each social media outlet as you would your LinkedIn profile. Even though Facebook is geared toward sharing anything and everything, you’ll be better off if you only put your best foot forward.
Although you may have to make some sacrifices to your profile pages, resisting the urge to post political tirades or that hilarious shot of your BFF dressed like a tequila bottle, you’ll find that treating your social media accounts like a virtual resume can have a dramatic impact on the success of your job search. It’s a reality of today’s world that, despite all the effort you put into a sparkling resume, your first impression on a potential employer may actually come in the form of 30 seconds on your Facebook page.
To nail that pre-interview social media background check, remember these important tips:
Keep it Positive
Yes, it’s a crummy world we live in and your political candidate didn’t win and you were so annoyed by that woman in line behind you today, but it’s time to keep those feelings to yourself — at least in your online persona. Just as you’d be quick to un-tag a truly awful photo of yourself, don’t go showcasing the uglier aspects of your personality on the internet. Keep it cheerful. Nobody wants to hire someone who is going to bring them down.
Contribute to Society
Which do you think will be more likely to lead to a job offer: a photograph of you dancing in a bar, or a picture of you helping build a house for Habitat for Humanity? Bingo. Make a point to find volunteer opportunities and give back to your community. Oftentimes, if you’re a member of a club, intramural sports team, or Greek organization, service will be an occasional part of your group’s activities. Unfortunately, we’re not as quick with the camera in these scenarios as we are when we’re out on the town. Document your good works and put them online. If you’re already giving back, don’t be afraid to subtly let that help you land a job. Charity work may already be on your resume, but a picture is worth a thousand words.
Employers want their staff to be fit, healthy, and happy. Not only do healthy workers generally have a better attitude and work more productively, they also save a company money on health insurance premiums and time off for sickness and disease. If you’re a budding home chef whipping up healthy meals, get those up on Instagram and spread them across your Pinterest and Facebook. Are you training for a half-marathon? Chart your progress via Twitter. When you demonstrate that you care about yourself and your body, you’re also perceived as being more likely to care about the health of the company you work for.
Show Your Family
Once you’re married or have children, Facebook feeds seem to be taken over by pictures of happy couples, babies and toddlers. For fresh graduates, however, family may not be the most prevalent pictures on your site. The next time you see mom and pop, smile big and tag away. Most successful businesses operate like big families — show that you value your own.
Be Well Rounded
Just as in an application for college, applying for a job depends on both your specific skills and qualifications and your general approach to life. Make sure that your social media resume portrays who you truly are. There may be aspects of your life that don’t make it onto your profile — something you collect, a hobby like knitting, or an outdoor pursuit like surfing — but that may be of interest to an employer or even provide an icebreaker in an interview. Think about the things you’re passionate about and make sure that they’re all well-represented on your social media profiles.
By thinking of your online existence as an extension of your resume, you’ll give yourself an advantage in your job search. Instead of thinking about what you need to hide or cover up on the internet, focus on promoting all of the positive aspects of yourself that would convince anyone that you’re an excellent candidate for a job.
Author of this post is Lizzie Wann. Lizzie is the Content Director for Bridgepoint Education. She oversees all website content and works closely with New Media, Career Services, and Student Services for Ashford University.