For some employers, checking your online presence is one of the first things they do
by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
In a few short years — or even months for some — you’ll be looking for your first “real” job to kick off your career. It’s an exciting time in your life. So much is changing so fast that it’s fun to share news, videos and pictures with friends and family. Sharing on social media also helps you feel connected to everyone at home. But it’s also absolutely vital to keep your online persona squeaky clean.
“Social media is an extension of who we are, and most times, the first impression people have about us,” said Eric Frans, a career coach with SUNY Oswego. “Many employers use social media to help determine whether a candidate would be a good fit with their company. Social media has shrunk the world and made many things public. Therefore, it’s important to have a positive online presence that accurately represents who you are as a professional.”
Your online reputation is especially important when seeking positions that require a great deal of trust, such as anything financial; jobs that place vulnerable populations in your care, such as teaching, taking care of people who are elderly or disabled; and any type of job where you represent the company such as community relations, media relations, or managerial positions.
“It’s not just what you post but what others tag you in,” said Cara Battaglia, job placement specialist with Cayuga Community College. “It’s there forever and doesn’t go away. It’s the perfect example of how perception becomes reality. It’s how other people perceive what you’re saying.”
She added that some people in “trust” type of jobs should simply avoid social media or drop contact with people who would tag them in risky posts.
• copious alcohol consumption, or any if you’re under 21
• illicit drug use
• jesting about illegal activity
• “sick” jokes and dark or morbid humor
• emotional solicitations (“If you really love me, you’ll respond. I bet no one will…” etc.).
• vague cries for help, like “I Just Can’t Take It Anymore” because it sounds like an immature bid for attention. (If you truly need help, call 911 or go to an emergency room.)
“It can raise questions about whether the candidate is a stable choice,” said Meg Osborne, coordinator of Career Services with Cayuga Community College. “Employers want to hire people with good self-management skills and avoid hiring someone who would get to get really dramatic and upset.”
• troll comments meant to stir up trouble
• arguments, name calling, insults and put-downs
• complaints about professors, school or employment/your career choice
• crude language
Basically, don’t post it if your grandmother would feel offended. You can help curtail any negative social media attention by keeping your settings private to just family and friends; however, if any of them share your posts, they’ll circulate anyway.
Instead of letting social media hamper your future career, choose to use it positively. Post:
• inspirational quotes, videos and photos.
• encouragement to others.
• positive news about your industry and school.
• uplifting community news.
• opportunities for people to join you in charitable efforts
Don’t engage with trolls and naysayers. By staying upbeat and not venting on social mediayou will appear deeply vested in your chosen career and someone who will bring value to any organization where you work.