You’ve finished the first semester, 2013 is over and you’ve been celebrating because, well, you deserve it.
Your grades are right where you want them, your roster of leadership and volunteer activities is ever-increasing, your resume is polished and you’ve been networking since forever. As you transition into spring semester, the hunt for your next job/internship/externship is on. But what if a few words or an image could derail all of this? All of your hard work, talent, dedication, time…rendered useless. What if you are actually the person derailing it? And worse yet, what if you don’t even realize it?
Let’s talk about your social media. Social media is one of the most important parts of your brand..yes, you’ve got one. And surprisingly some students don’t recognize this..to their detriment. For some, it’s an afterthought. For others it’s given no thought. Some may think of social media as personal…merely self expression among friends. Personal views on social media aside, the moment it is accessible on the internet, it’s no longer private.
Having spent ten years in private investigations, I can tell you that social media searches are a huge part of corporate due diligence and pre-employment investigations. Be careful. Real decisions are based on the information people find researching a candidate…and have no doubt that they will research. If you are applying for a job, internship, externship, volunteer position, scholarship, grad school, board position, tutor/mentor position, etc. someone will likely research you. Even your potential dates are looking you up.
But it’s not just potential employers. Perhaps even more importantly for you it’s recruiters and hiring managers who may be looking for you even if you haven’t applied to a job. According to a 2013 JobVite study, “94% of recruiters use or plan to use social media in their recruitment efforts and 78% of recruiters have made a hire through social media.”
A nationwide survey conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder found “that nearly two in five companies (39 percent) use social networking sites to research job candidates, up from 37 percent last year.” Additionally, the study found that “more than two in five (43 percent) hiring managers who currently research candidates via social media said they have found information that has caused them not to hire a candidate, up 9 percentage points from last year.” The line between personal and professional space is blurred. You will be professionally assessed against your personal content.
Managing your social media is a life skill not just a job skill. People view social media as providing a raw, unfiltered look at someone. What are people seeing when they look at what they think is the ‘real you’? After all, it’s your content. You are creating it, publishing it and disseminating it. Even if you feel it’s an invasion of “privacy” and you shouldn’t be judged on it, it’s the “you” they are seeing.
Your digital footprint is your virtual first impression. So, take a moment to think about yours. What does your digital footprint say about you? Is your social media working for you? Against you? Is it doing anything at all for you?
Can anybody find you? Are you visible? Would anybody want you if they found you? When someone hires you, they are hiring all of you not just your exceptional talent. That person is hiring a human being that will be part of a team within a company culture and you will become a reflection of the organization. So, what does your virtual resume say? If you neutralized yourself by deleting your posts and photos then it’s a blank page, it says nothing. Sterile doesn’t persuade employers that you should be on their team. Show and tell who you are. You have to be persuasive. If you’ve shut down your social media completely or are using a fake name you are missing opportunities. Be authentic. Convince potential employers that you would be a stellar addition to their team and would mesh well with other employees.
Part 2 of this blog will provide recommendations on how take control and build your online presence. At Social Assurity, we say if people are looking, give them something to see. Your social media is one of your biggest assets.