Think about the last time that you looked someone up online. Maybe you had been assigned a random roommate, and you wanted to check out their social media to get to know them. Or maybe a friend asked, “do you know (insert name here)?”, and your instinct was to look online to find a picture and see if you had any connections. These are all perfectly normal situations that play out on a daily basis in our technologically driven society. The other side of this, however, is that people are also using the internet and social media to “vet” you, just as you would to someone else. How do you think you come across to people when they find your online profiles? More importantly—how do you think an employer views you when they find your online presence? Do you think they want to hire you?
It’s important to keep in mind that not all social media is bad. In fact, what may be equally as troubling for an employer is not finding any information on you. It is highly unlikely that you have no online presence, so this might signify that to an employer that you have something to hide. According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, 47% of employers surveyed stated that they are less likely to call a person in for an interview if they cannot find the candidate online.
Instead of hiding yourself online, focus on creating a positive online presence to leverage this tool to your advantage. One of the best examples of this is demonstrated through LinkedIn. Here are some examples of how you can get started:
- Use a professional photo. Use a high quality image that shows you from the shoulders up. Be sure to dress professionally! Avoid selfies—have someone take it for you, or use a tripod.
- Headline: Make your headline concise and compelling. The reader should learn something about you.
- Summary: Describe what motivates you and what your plans for the future are.
- Experience: List all of your jobs, internships, and volunteer experiences. Be sure to mention what you accomplished in these roles! Do you have a professional blog? Link to it here!
- Education: List all of your educational pursuits that you’ve completed or are currently in progress.
- Courses & Projects: Showcase the classes you’ve taken that taught you the skills and interests you’re most excited about. Don’t forget to list specific projects you’ve completed.
Once you are established on Linkedin, make sure you stay active and use this site to its full advantage. This site allows you to connect and follow employers, see their updates, job postings, and more. Do you have a specific company or organization you’d love to work for? Follow them on Linkedin! Their posts will give you unique insight on their values, goals, and corporate culture.
Not everything should be visible on your profiles. You’ve probably heard stories of people being fired from their job for a post they had on Facebook, but did you know that this can also impact your chances of being hired by a company? Many times your online profiles are the first impression that an employer has of you. According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, over 70% of employers use social media as a screening tool in their hiring process.
Avoid making unprofessional photos or posts public. It may be fine to share with your friends and family, but not necessarily the first thing you want your potential employer to learn about you. It’s also important to note that your profile and posts are not the only thing that could be seen by someone during a search. Have you ever left a public comment on a news article? Remember, those comments are visible to everyone—including potential employers. Facebook and LinkedIn are not the only modes to take into consideration. Any social media site, like Instagram, Tik Tok, Snapchat, or even personal blogs, can be found by potential employers. This is especially true if you have previously followed one of these companies. If you are connected with that organization, or even employees of that organization, the information you’re sharing online may not be as private as you think.
Keep in mind, once something is posted on the internet, it’s never really gone, so you should practice discretion as a general rule of thumb. Having an online presence is normal, and even necessary, in our world today. That being said, you are in control of what you share with the general public. In general, if it’s NSFW (not safe for work), it probably shouldn’t be visible as part of your online presence.