Saving Face(book): A Guide on Tailoring Your Online Image

It has never been more important to watch what you post online, especially if you are on the job market. According to CareerBuilder, upwards of 76% of recruiters are utilizing social media as a means to screen potential employees. It may sound so simple; if your mother shouldn’t see it, neither should an HR manager. However, many people still find themselves in danger of jeopardizing a job opportunity just because of something that was posted online. That’s why the MU Career Center keeps people like me employed; to help communicate some common sense principles that often go unlooked.

The Internet is Written in Ink, Not Pencil
Let’s say you and your buddies/gal-pals go out to Harpo’s after a long week of exams.  You post a dumb selfie of yourself holding a can of cheap college kid beer next to your friends (because, for some reason, you don’t have friends unless you document them every time you go out). You think to yourself “oh I’ll just delete this after a couple of days; I just want to make my parents freak out.” What you didn’t know is that when you delete a photo that you posted online, it doesn’t ACTUALLY get deleted. In fact, they are still kept on the network’s servers, and anyone with a static URL, especially recruiters, can still access them.

Privacy Settings Could Be an Issue 
Setting your profile to private, to where people who do not follow you or are not “friends” with you are unable to see any of your information (picture, workplace, place of residence, etc.) may be seen as a red flag. Even if you do not post inappropriate content on social media, employers may assume the worst just by the inability to look at your profile, even in the most basic form. Common worries about profile privacy, including surveillance, should be avoided in order to allow for better opportunities to be hired by an employer.

If You Want to Work in It, Follow It 
Recruiters are more likely to hire individuals that demonstrate genuine interest in their professional field.  In the social media age, it is very easy to illustrate your interests by following and liking pages that reflect what you are interested in.  You could put this to your advantage; try liking and following pages/profiles related to things in your field of study; a journalism major should follow a variety of news organizations on Twitter, or a finance major may consider liking the NASDAQ Facebook page.