Why it is SO important to present yourself online the same way you would in the flesh? Here are some social media DOs & DON'Ts for students to consider when maintaining online profiles.
By Katlynd Poulton
Do you have a Facebook account? How about Twitter, Instagram or any other social profile platform?! I bet the answer is yes, because it's 2015 and the majority of us do. Did you know that the way you portray yourself online is a big deal? If you didn't or if you aren't sure you should continue reading…
Our online profiles are growing increasingly more important as society continues to use Social Media to connect with others and to share information. Many of us simply use our profiles as a form of entertainment or to stay socially connected with other people; what we need to remember is that there are strictly professional users who might take a peek at our profile from time to time.
Have you applied for a job recently, gone for an interview or even gotten a new job? If the answer is yes than you should assume the employer likely browsed through your profile's content! For some students – even adults, this might seem like a big deal if perhaps you have some inappropriate online content… Here is a list of some of the DO's & DON'T's for online profile building and maintenance:
DO:1. Keep It Classy
If you were applying to a job, you would show up looking professional, speak with professional language and be on your best behaviour… your online presence should look no different! Use a classy photo of yourself, post grammatically correct comments or statements and maintain a professional online attitude. Even though your profile is about YOU, make sure you portray a side you don't mind the entire world having access to. You wouldn't want an employer to meet you in the flesh but meet a completely different person online, would you?
2. Filter Often
If you don't talk to them, delete 'em! There's no real reason for you to have 500+ friends on Facebook unless you honestly speak to all of them on a regular basis. Clean up your account every now and then, reject invites if you don't think they're appropriate or remove people from your friend's list that have risky profiles. You don't want your profile linked to inappropriate user content, so clean up that friends list when you see fit! Also, ensure that the Pages or Groups that you like or follow are also appropriate... meaning, you wouldn't mind if your boss were to take a look too. This may seem nit-picky but it take less than 5 minutes to surf through someone's profile and even less time to decide whether you have a good or bad impression of that person, so make sure you're always making a good impression!
3. Create and Maintain a LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is an online profile that all College and University students should have and maintain! LinkedIn allows you to share personal and professional highlights about yourself that employers are interested in knowing. You can add your resume, volunteer experience, strengths and weaknesses, education and work experience, etc. - it is literally an online portfolio that you can access anywhere that has Internet. Employers will definitely check to see if you have LinkedIn and if you do, they will be checking to see how up-to-date your information is. LinkedIn becoming is very popular and many young professionals are starting to optimize their profiles so make sure you join ASAP!
4. Manage Your Privacy Settings
Set your profile to private - there are many reasons for this so just make sure that you do it. You don't need to go so far as becoming incognito, but make sure your posts, albums and personal information isn't accessible without your approval first. You can learn a lot about a person through their online profiles, so don't let anyone get the idea that they know you without even meeting you face-to-face first. Keep your personal information limited - Facebook and Twitter aren't diary's, you shouldn't be airing out any dirty laundry online.
5. Collect Online Endorsements
When you've done a good job or have demonstrated your skills, ask for others to endorse you. Ask a supervisor and co-worker to write and post a short paragraph endorsing on your LinkedIn page where other employers can review your references. These pieces are to your benefit and help employers get a sense of your work ethic and abilities from someone else's perspective. On LinkedIn specifically, the more professional information that you have available will improve your profile and online presence. Keep all your information up-to-date just like you would your resume!
1. Insensitive Posts
This goes hand in hand with 'keeping it classy'. Every time you post something online you should be considering your audience. Ask yourself, 'Do I really need to post this?'... 'Will this be offensive to someone else who reads this?'... 'How does this post make me look?'... It's important to keep your posts positive and neutral, sometimes it is best to keep your opinions to yourself. Venting online can be very damaging because once you've put that information out there - it's there... f-o-r-e-v-e-r... At the end of the day, make sure you don't regret anything you've posted.
2. Adding People You Don't Know
Networking is definitely something you should practice but make sure you've met the person you are adding online before sending that 'friend/follow request'. It's not appropriate to have an online network of professionals and people you have never met before, make sure the people you share your content with are people you have met before. It is also uncomfortable for the recipient to respond to the request if they have no idea who you are. If you are looking to make an initial online connection, try emailing the person rather than approaching them through their personal profiles.
3. Uncensored Content/Sharing TOO Much Information
Language people! Keep it G rated at all times AND grammatically correct. Those pictures from the bar last weekend probably aren't a good idea to post either...It seems that some of us forget that a picture speaks a thousand words. It is nice to share pictures and personal stories online every now and then, but make sure they portray you in a positive way. The bottom line is, every time you post you should ensure it is something you wouldn't mind your employer seeing - because chances are they just might!