College probably meant a lot of different things to you four years ago as you began your freshmen year. It probably meant freedom, parties, new friends, new lovers, poor judgments and dorm food. It probably meant posting all your new and exciting experiences on every social media outlet for the world to see.
Now, as you sink into your senior year and reality hits you like a truck, you might be thinking something along the lines of, “I need a job after college.” Don’t we all?
That is what we have been working towards for the last four, five, or six years. The idea is that we graduate, we get a degree, we land our dream job and we make our parents proud. However, that is not always the case for some people.
This is not always because we chose the wrong major or did not try hard enough in school. Often times, it is because a potential employer has Googled them, checked their Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and probably discovered some things they did not like.
Personally, I love social media. I am constantly connecting with my friends and family, my peers and future employers through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. However, I am not always aware of the influence my posts have on my personal accounts.
I am not perfect. I have posted photos of my freshmen year that I wish never existed in the online world. Luckily, throughout my college career, I have matured and become aware of the way others perceive me due to my online presence. I have come to realize that anything and everything I post on the Internet is permanent and that it is my job to shape a positive perception of myself, especially for future employers.
This can be tough. We use social media as a form of self-expression and to connect with others. We also use it to make our professional online handprint, so we can network with employers and pursue our careers. This can tough to accomplish at times.
How do we maintain who we are, while also promoting our professional brand? How do we operate on social media personally and professionally without jeopardizing our professional image?
Establish your professional brand. What are you studying in school? What are your career aspirations?
Determine who you are as an entrepreneur and think about the bigger picture. Try to build a broader perspective of yourself that symbolizes you professionally. This can allow you to distinguish what is worth sharing online and what is not. Be cautious of the conversations you participate in on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Think to yourself, “Is this truly significant and worth sharing? What will this say to people viewing my personal accounts?,” before posting something.
It is always better to play it safe if you are not sure if what you are about to post is a smart move. You are representing yourself; what you have to say online gives your followers, employers and peers an insight into who you are.
Highlight your interests and accomplishments in your profile bio. Profile bios are usually the first thing people read when they come across your personal accounts. You want to give them a positive perception of who you are as professional with just a few words or sentences. Do not get too personal. Think of personalizing your brand in order to show employers your professional and personal interests. For example, mine looks something like this, “Public relations student at the University of Oregon interested in event planning. Ambassador for Chegg. Creative thinker and outdoor enthusiast.”
Think before you post. Of course, you have certain opinions and point of views. You have a personality and you want to show that through your social platforms. However, it is important that it is done in a responsible way. Believe it or not, employers, professors, peers, friends and family are actively checking your accounts. So, what you have to say can speak volumes. Sharing intimate or petty details about your life can have repercussions. Do you really want a potential employer to know how much you hate your professor from last term who gave you a failing grade? Is it worth that potential employer thinking you are okay with publicly bashing someone online? No. No, it is not.
It is common to let our emotions get the best of us sometimes, but for it to hinder your online presence or future career opportunities does not make it worth posting. Take a deep breath, take a step back and think about the significance of what you are about to post.
However, social platforms give you the opportunity to showcase the personality behind your brand. You can still maintain your personality while still being professional. You do want people to see that you as a real human being. You want to show them that you have a point of view and can take a stance on a topic.
Post content that reflects your accomplishments, school projects, internships or great things you have been doing within your community. Build credibility. People love to see that you are involved in things. They want to read about your summer internship and the success you had. They want to see that you are actively blogging or updating an online portfolio, so post links to your other websites on your Twitter and Facebook page. Constantly share your accomplishments because people want to see that you can stay busy and diversify yourself. Created a multimedia component for your school’s newspaper? Post it! Share it with your followers. Post content that highlights your professional interests and do not be afraid to talk about it.
Social media platforms have become an easy and effective way to showcase yourself professional. Take advantage of the opportunities these platforms possess and be careful of what you post.
Handley, A. (2013). How to Balance Your Personal and Professional Presence Online. Retrieved from http://www.entrepreneur.com
Lontos, P., Ciske, M. (2014). 8 Steps to a Professional Online Presence. Retrieved from http://www.fairfaxcountyeconomicdevelopmentauthority.com
Media. (2014). Social Media. Retrieved from Florida State University, College of Communication and Information.