Managing Your Online Image
Your online presence is part of your image as a job seeker. Employers know they can learn about you with a quick Google search which can yield information (good or bad) that is not in your application. A critical early step in the job or internship search is searching for yourself online to see what comes up. If the results are inconsistent with the image you want employers to see, do your best to remove or edit content, or try adding materials that are more consistent with the image you want to project.
Be Mindful of Social Media
See the links listed below for a guide to best use practices and using social media for business for different platforms you may have:
Research shows a majority of employers have had social media content affect their hiring decisions; most often convincing them not to hire an otherwise promising candidate. This means you need to approach social media with an eye to your personal and professional image. Take the time to review your accounts and ensure you are only sharing things you are comfortable with your future employer seeing. When reviewing posts, ask yourself how a stranger would see them. It is also important to consider your connections’ comments on your posts and the content they tag you in; who you choose to associate with can also shape employers’ views of you.
Common Social Media Red Flags for Employers:
- Drug use
- Sexually explicit content
- Discrimination based on gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.
- Alcohol use (even if you are 21!)
- GIFs or Memes that portray content that may seem isolating or biased (not inclusive) even if meant to be humorous
- Posts about guns
- Posts that denigrate past supervisors, coworkers, or jobs
- Poor spelling and grammar
The best way to ensure your social media presence does not negatively impact your job/internship search is to only display content you feel comfortable with the entire world seeing. However, using privacy settings offers a significant measure of protection.
Your privacy settings may not protect you adequately if content about you is owned by a friend or connection. If one of your social media connections (like an Amherst alum) is connected with your prospective employer, they may be in a position to share information about your activity that you would prefer to stay private.
Some people choose to have seperate accounts that allow them to more clearly delineate their professional presentation.
Create a Positive Social Media Image
At this point, you may be thinking you want to lock your social media up as tightly as possible so that employers cannot see anything you share. However, a lack of online presence can be a red-flag for employers, particularly if social media is important to your field. It also prevents you from using social media to promote yourself through your job or internship search process.
The adage is true…. A picture is worth a thousand words. Make sure that all photos of you (or groups) are kept in line with the image you wish to portray.
Positive Content You Can Engage in Sharing:
- Proof of professional experiences (employers can see your resume is consistent with online information)
- Your demonstrated interest in employer’s field or profession
- Evidence suggesting you are a good cultural fit with an employer’s office
- Appropriate photo (professional-looking headshot for LinkedIn, casual but work-appropriate photo for Facebook and Twitter)
- Follow brands, companies, people, and groups that relate to your career interests.
- Post articles related to your career interests to let people know what you are passionate about; share your opinion about it or ask a question to engage others in conversation
Tip: When brands, companies, or people post content that interests you, tweet back or post a response to engage them in conversation. This is a great opportunity to show prospective employers how well you understand industry issues and articulate your thoughts. Engaging in conversations with other members of professional groups or brand followers can help you create new connections with those who are intrigued by your opinions. These connections may be able to provide you with valuable support throughout a job or internship search and into a promising career.
However, make sure you fully understand a conversation before joining in, so that you can make intelligent, well- informed comments. Think critically about all comments before you post them! Do they fit with the online image you want? Always be polite to others, even when you are disagreeing with them. Rude comments can alarm prospective employers, and you never know when the person with whom you are communicating may be in a position to influence your career advancement in the future!