Imagine you’ve woken up Sunday morning after a particularly heavy night out; you reach for your phone and find the message ‘You have been tagged in 12 photos.’ Is your immediate reaction to check Facebook and look at what a great night you had? Or is it a feeling of dread as you try and replay the evening in your mind?
Chances are, if you have one too many to drink, you’re going to end up doing something you’d rather wasn’t documented on your friends iPhone. (It happens to the best of us) Trouble is, with social media playing a part in our everyday lives, no longer do these photos stay locked away. You wake up to find that picture where you’re passed out in the street is plastered all over Facebook and before you know it, everyone from your brother to your old primary school friend has ‘liked’ it. Considering the fact the average Facebook user has 229 Facebook friends, you can guarantee a lot of eyes will be seeing you at your worst.
You’re probably wondering why we are mentioning this, after all, who doesn’t let their hair down during their university years? Drinking too much and making a fool of yourself is all part of the experience. We’re not suggesting you become teetotal, but what we are here to do is offer you advice. As you edge closer to your last year at university, it’s time to look at your online profile and how it can affect your career as a postgraduate.
Facebook and Twitter are two of the most popular social media sites around; almost everyone you know probably has an account on at least one. It’s for this reason that employers look beyond the CV when scoping out potential employees. Your CV gives you a chance to shine and only lets employers know the best about you. However with over a third of all students now graduating with a 2:1, it’s hard for employers to find the real talent. They want to know what type of person you are, behind the special skills and work experience.
What better place to do this than personal profiles? A CareerBuilder survey was conducted and found that as many as 37% of employers are looking to social media websites before they make a decision about employees. Facebook and Twitter is often the first port of call, they use these websites to find out your real qualities and habits. This is why it’s crucial to understand what type of online presence you have.
If you hold a social media account and are concerned about the statistics, you can take one of two actions; either make your account entirely private or use it to your advantage and ensure you come across as professional and employable.
If you feel as though your Facebook or Twitter page is for personal use, and shouldn’t be dictated by employers, the first thing you need to do is make all accounts private. Twitters privacy settings are good and unless you accept followers, no one can view what you’ve written. Facebook, however, isn’t up to scratch on its privacy settings. Despite having a private profile, tagged photos are often still visible, as are cover photos and mobile uploads.
Our advice is to ensure all privacy settings are set to max. Check what is visible and what isn’t by viewing your profile whilst you are logged out. This will show you exactly what employers see when they type your name into the search bar.
If you are going to use this information to your advantage, then its time for a profile clear out. Employers’ won’t care if you have 200 or 2,000 friends; they are looking to find your qualities. If you write a status claiming you’re still in bed at 3 in the afternoon, you will come across as lazy and this goes against you.
The same rule applies for photographs, employers will not want to see a photo of you downing two pints in Oktoberfest last year, neither will they want to see those skinny dipping photos from your holiday in Malia. Delete all inappropriate photographs, statuses and comments. Change your profile picture from a drunken night out to a more respectable picture and never write a status about missing work or not handing in an essay on time.
Basically, use your profile as an extension to your CV; only project yourself in the best light. Ask family and friends not to write any embarrassing stories about you on your wall, and politely request not to be tagged in any compromising photographs. Another important thing to remember is to never leave your Facebook logged on. Once your friends have a hold on your account the inevitable ‘Frape’ will happen, and they may like certain pages in your name you wish they hadn’t.
Be aware of what has been said and what hasn’t across any social media sites you hold an account on. If you come across as professional even in your personal profile, employers will find it hard not to offer you an interview.
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