Social Media: Friend or Foe for College and Job Applicants?

It’s no secret these days that college admissions officers, intern employers and future job employers view candidates’ Facebook and Twitter accounts and other social media platforms.

Professionals searching your social media accounts are determining how you represent yourself. Are you a partier? An athlete? A prankster? A professional?

Most people know by now that the way you portray yourself on social media platforms is now taken so seriously that just one view of your page can determine your future at a university or a company. So representing yourself positively is in your best interest, however, college students especially struggle with this.

First, let’s define social media.

To avoid going on a rant, I’ll give you my simplified take on this.

If social media is truly designed to be “social” media, companies and universities have no business viewing a person’s page and making judgments about it, in my opinion. If it were called “professional” media, future employers would be expected to explore it.

Young adults, especially college students mainly use social media to portray their social personality, which for many people that age revolves around parties, their friends, vacations and other campus life activities. The personality depicted in Facebook and Twitter profiles are made to satisfy viewers of a similar age and with similar interests, which is why they depict people’s social lives.

The way I see it, if professionals and future employers want a glimpse into your professional life, they should search your Linked In profile, or your resume for that matter.

Which brings me to my next point.

You may want to consider having two different social media accounts for different audiences; separate social and professional profiles.

One way to do this is create accounts under different names. If your nickname, for example, is Katie, your social Facebook can be under Katie, but put your professional Facebook profile under Katherine. Get it?

Once you have created separate accounts, add and accept friend requests based on the intended audience of each profile. For instance, many companies these days are asking if students are on Facebook and expect you to give them your user name so they can search you. In this situation you would give your professional account name, and then only add and accept professional connections as friends on this account.

The same concept can be applied to the pictures you add, the information you write about yourself, and the language you use in your posts.

Remember, there’s no law saying you can only have one Facebook or Twitter account, so why not have multiple?

One precaution to keep in mind is keeping track of what profile you are using if you decide to create multiple accounts. You wouldn’t want to be tweeting about your Saturday night at the bar only to discover you forgot you were on your professional profile.

At the same time, still be extra cautious about how you are portraying yourself online. I’m sure by now you have heard this before, but in this day and age where technology is becoming increasingly important, so is protecting yourself when using it.

Whether you create multiple Twitters or Facebooks, always be weary of posting photos of you partying, especially if you are underage. Make sure you have a variety of pictures and postings/tweets showing all sides of your personality, not just 300 pictures of you with a beer in your hand.

Use social media to promote yourself, not incriminate yourself.

Finally, remember that social networking sites still have options to be privatized. Set your profiles to “private”, allowing only those you are friends with to view your site.

Also remember that there is such a thing as crossing the line when employers and admissions officers ask about your social media profiles. Asking for your passwords, specific pictures and other personal information is a major violation of privacy, and you don’t have to comply with certain requests. You may also want to reconsider even working for a company that would take advantage of you in that way.

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Madeline Fetchiet

Madeline Fetchiet

Madeline Fetchiet is a sophomore at Michigan State University, studying journalism and philosophy of law. Aside from reporting, Madeline enjoys tae kwon do, reading, writing, researching and traveling, and can be considered a music enthusiast. Madeline currently works as an intern for thecollegehelper.com, and is a banquet server at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor, MI. Perfecting the storytelling side of reporting is something she looks forward to in her future career as a journalist.
Madeline Fetchiet

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