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Employer-Proofing Your Social Media Profiles

The number of online articles about personal social media accounts and the research your potential employers are likely doing continues to grow. It seems inevitable that a potential employer is going to attempt to gather information about what you are NOT telling them, so what kind of impression are you making with your online profiles or tweets?

True or false?

You are generally safe with venting via Twitter because less than half of your followers actually read your tweets, and the chances that your hashtags will go viral are slim. FALSE – at least the first part. If you doubt this, ask the high school senior who attended a campus information day in Brunswick, Maine and proceeded to post negative or derogatory comments about others while she was there (see They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They saw Your Tweets. – NY Times). Remember that employers can keep track of their social media mentions.

Your profile picture can mean more to an employer than the work-related skills or experience you hoped they would read. TRUE. A good profile picture can reveal professionalism, confidence, and personal characteristics that lead employers to think, “That is someone I would like to work with!” A bad profile picture, however, can reveal personal qualities, skills, or experiences that they do not need or want to know about. See 8 Profile Picture Rules Every Professional Should Follow – The Business Insider.

Establishing a LinkedIn profile automatically makes you a professional. False. It may be the largest social networking site for professionals and creating a profile can be good, but it’s equally important to maintain it. In addition to maintaining a professional profile photo, keep your Linkedin profile information updated. Make certain there are no typos or grammatical errors. You should pay attention to the same details you have (or should) with your resume; in fact, the information on your profile should be consistent with what is on your resume. Manage your endorsements and get rid of those that do not provide an accurate depiction of your skills and abilities.

The fact that employers can and will look at your personal social media profiles may sound creepy. However, as we embrace the advantages of modern technology, we must also be prepared to navigate the issues that can be disadvantageous. If you have not already, employer-proof your privacy settings, pictures, and information.


About Jill Bowers

Jill is a certified family life educator (CFLE), certified family and consumer scientist (CFCS-HDFS), and a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Human and Community Development at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She developed the idea for this project when she was working on a research project where she interviewed emerging adults (18-20 year olds). Work and career related content was something about which the emerging adults were most interested in learning more, and many of the issues that were at the center of their daily concerns were those surrounding their career plans and navigating the job market. Although some of the emerging adults in the study were aware of the fact that they could find information on the Internet to answer their questions or that there were resources available through their college or University, most of them could not recall being required to participate in any professional development courses that helped them with career-related skills and most of them suffered from “information overload” related to their Internet searches for information that would help them with their career paths. For example, some of them had been told about the importance of networking (e.g., at Career Fairs), but they did not really understand what this was or how to do it. Therefore, as a result of her experiences working with emerging adults, Jill initiated this project to help FCS students by providing them with information that will help ensure their success as they navigate the job market.

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