As a university student myself, I’m aware that social media is integrated into our lives and has become a large platform for keeping and creating connections between friends, family, and even business contacts. Although social media allows students to have more freedom, there is always great responsibility that comes with it.
There are continuous concerns when moving into the working world and creating a good online reputation as a student. Although some of the following tips may seem typical and coincide with our basic common-sense filters, some of our social media postings can be damaging to ourselves and our reputations. The consequence of having an inappropriate social media account is lack of employability, as companies may view a candidate from their social media account.
There is an assumption that younger generations are equipped to handle technology better than older generations. However, in terms of the use of social media applications we are not always aware of the programming and the privacy settings of these apps. When creating social media profiles, it is good practice to limit public access to certain apps such as Facebook. Although you want to promote yourselves to potential employers, you also need to be aware of who else can view your content and what content you wish to be seen by others. We are not always aware of how much information is available to companies that we apply to, so it is sensible to MAKE yourself aware.
Be careful about who you’re friends with on social media apps
Your social media presence can be tackled by being more conscious of who you are friends with on social media apps. For example, Bob McIntosh (2017) says that employers are more likely to be interested in candidates that have more industry related contacts, as they can gather referrals and recommendations of you as a person and your work ethic. Rather than a candidate with 200+ Facebook friends and contacts that they either do not know or don’t speak to, as this does not help companies gauge your personality. If anything, it looks suspicious and amateurish to employers.
Check your tagged photos
Similarly, if your friends on Facebook or on other social media apps post inappropriate photos or posts tagging you, although those posts are not distributed by yourself, they are still visible to the public. Even if you have more private settings that don’t allow people that aren’t friends with you to view your profile, Google is still able to publish the information. Therefore, when an employer Google searches your name the results will include those inappropriate photos.
Keep your passwords safe
As a younger generation, we are the ones who invented ‘Frapping’. This, to those who are not familiar, is a form of pranking by hacking into someone’s social media and writing something posing as the person’s account. Although this is mainly common among friends and family it is important to be aware of:
- Who knows your social media passwords.
- Remember to log out after using apps.
- Don’t leave your devices open.
This may be a joke at the time but if you are not aware it is up it only takes a second for a post to create a digital footprint and convey an unprofessional look to future employers.
Engage with your industry
It’s also a good idea to enhance your employability appeal by liking and following relevant industry subjects.
As a student there are a lot of benefits from following industries on social media:
- You can read content regarding your subject area that is interesting and useful to keep up to date with, especially on apps like LinkedIn you are able to see content posted by company employees.
- You can engage in discussions on related topics.
- You can make contacts through mutual interests.
- You can learn a lot from industry posts and company events that may get your foot in the door.
- The main benefit is that employers can see your engagement within the industry and acknowledge your understanding of related subjects.
Try to ditch following typical ‘UniLad’ and ‘Ladbible’ media accounts. They are fun and can show some part of your personality, but it’s safer not to be associated with something that might post offensive content.
We are told by university advisors and company officials to ‘showcase’ ourselves within our CV’s, LinkedIn profiles, and within other social media apps. Yet, in a technological and social media revolving world, it is easy for the ‘digital’ generation to rely on social media. Although, managing your presence online is important to expand your employability appeal. There are issues of ‘identity’ crisis and ‘fantasising’ profiles to compete with other profiles. You could say some people find comfort in creating a filter to sell themselves as a person, as most people do on apps like Instagram to boost their likeability. It is important to remember that although it can be exciting to escape through social media, you need to represent YOURSELF to employers and not a façade.
In overview, employability does create a lot of stress and anxiety for students, myself included. However, social media is a way of helping present yourself in a more accessible and innovative way moving forward from a typical paper-based CV. By following the advice stated, it will help you to manage the anxiety of employment and by creating a more professional online presence you will be more successful in achieving your goals workwise.
References and further reading:
Froggatt, L. (2012, Sep 7). Student Life: Student’s guide to social media. The Telegraph. Retrieved from: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/student-life/9523385/Student-Life-Students-guide-to-social-media.html.
Karadkar, A. (2015, Sep 13). The impact of social media on student life. Technician. Retrieved from: http://www.technicianonline.com/opinion/article_d1142b70-5a92-11e5-86b4-cb7c98a6e45f.html.
McIntosh, B. (2017, July 19). 5 Ways Employers Prefer to Hire. Recruiter. Retrieved from: https://www.recruiter.com/i/5-ways-employers-prefer-to-hire/.
Nolan, R. (2018, Jan 24). Student’s guide to Social Media security: Managing Privacy Online. Stay Safe Online: National Cyber Security Alliance. Retrieved from: https://staysafeonline.org/blog/students-guide-social-media-security-managing-privacy-online/.
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