In the next couple weeks, college seniors around the nation will be making the transition to the “real world.” Compared to when their parents were in their shoes, and even generations before them, the job search and market itself has changed drastically. With the advent of social media and increased popularity on college campuses (and even the curriculum), the world has seemingly become a smaller place. We can now remain connected with people across the country and globe easier than ever before.

While this is a great tool for staying in touch with your college friends and family members, it is also a way for future employers to pre-screen candidates and make a decision before ever meeting an applicant. According to a 2017 survey conducted by our friends over at CareerBuilder, 70 percent of employers research the social media presence of candidates before making hiring decisions. This statistic does not mean that you should stop using social media if you want a job; in fact, quite the opposite, as some companies believe candidates without one is a red flag.

Believe it or not, a well-executed social media presence can actually get you a job. However, it seems like the newsworthy headlines surrounding social media and the job search are mostly about a candidate having an opportunity withdrawn due to something controversial. Given the difficulty in getting a job, job seekers, especially soon-to-be college graduates, should try everything they can to better their chances. This means auditing your various social media accounts.

In an article for our friends at TopResume, Ronda Suder came up with some do’s and don’ts to think twice about when it comes to social media use and building your personal brand positively. She breaks it down into two categories: before you begin applying to jobs and after you’ve been hired and begin working. You can read the full article here.

Before You Begin Applying To Jobs

Do Keep It G-Rated

Regardless of the privacy settings you set and who you’ve chosen to see what you’ve shared, certain parts of your profile can be seen by anybody. This goes for many platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Does your profile picture show you drinking a beer? Even if you are over 21, it is probably a good idea to limit the sharing of these types of pictures. Since the majority of employers are using social media as a first impression, this could send the wrong idea of the type of person you are and be the difference between getting hired and passed upon.

Do Clean Up Your Image And Online Brand

Whenever an athlete or public figure has a noteworthy performance, it seems like the Internet scours up old Tweets or posts from years ago (see Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo). As they say, “what goes on the Internet, stays on the Internet,” so cleaning up your image and online brand is key. Thanks to software such as Xpire, you can do this with relative ease. According to investor/co-founder, Mark Cuban, “You are responsible for your own digital footprint. Without control, you are at risk for anyone creating any image they want of you on social media or elsewhere.” When it comes to the job search, this is of upmost importance.

Don’t Overshare

While you might be a #foodie at heart, take into consideration your audience and what you are sharing. In all likelihood, the vast majority probably are not too interested in your daily meals. However, if you are applying to jobs in the culinary industry or building a food-related brand, it is a different story. But if you are constantly sharing these to your personal account, not only will you likely lose followers, but it shows potential employers that you are an “oversharer” which could be a red flag. Will you share things about the company that should be kept in-house?

Don’t React Too Quickly

The Internet community is extremely sensitive. Sure, everyone is entitled to an opinion, but when it comes to certain topics it is easy to get a little carried away and fire off a quick response. It is in times like this where responding instead of reacting becomes crucial. Since many platforms are instantaneous, or at least have that expectation, we can get sucked into “Twitter wars” and say something we don’t necessarily mean. The same can be said for text messaging.

After You’ve Been Hired And Begin Working

Do Show Some Love

Sharing both your accomplishments (tastefully, of course) and of the company is encouraged. While these are ideal for LinkedIn, you can also share these updates to your Twitter and Facebook audiences as well. Having pride in your work is never something to be ashamed of.

Do Be Yourself

Have you ever been browsing your LinkedIn feed and notice that almost every post seems to follow the same format lately? They usually start off with a brief anecdote then have odd spacing between each line that causes you to click the “show more” button. Although it seems that the line between personal and professional is becoming more and more blurred on LinkedIn, one way to remain authentic is to be yourself. You don’t need to format your update in anyway other than how you usually would. A brief paragraph is perfectly acceptable, and appreciated by many users!

Don’t Get Caught In A Lie

Maybe you just needed a personal day but felt bad taking PTO in the middle of the week, so you decided to call in “sick.” Although you might make good-natured headlines like this grade school principal and fourth-grader at the Chicago Cubs game, you should probably avoid posting on social media.

Don’t Badmouth Or Bash A Company, Especially Yours

Websites like Glassdoor provide prospective candidates an inside look at a company based on employee (current or past) reviews. While you are expected to be honest, you should avoid bashing the company as what you say can probably be traced back to you somehow. Talking bad about a colleague, via “subtweet” for example, is usually pretty obvious to those in your circle and reflects poorly on your character. Taking the high road is always the better option.

Wrap Up

Social media is a wonderful thing. We use it to remain connected with friends and family, meet new friends, interact with industry professionals, check out cute dog pictures and even find a job. However, given the popularity, you must be careful about the message and image you project. When it comes to the job hunt, one slip up could make the difference between getting hired and rejected. For the rest of the social media do’s and don’ts every college grad should know according to Ronda Suder, you can read the full article here.

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