By Laura Gore
Career & Counseling Center
To follow up on last month’s Let’s Talk Social Media blog post, I wanted to add a little more perspective on the big picture. As the career counselor, social media and communication is something I get to talk about to classes and students fairly often, and I get that some of you may be thinking, “Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before. What’s the big deal anyway?” And I agree. It may not seem fair that you have to be careful about what you put on your personal page for friends or even like all this is an invasion of privacy.
In my job, I get contacted by companies who want to post a job or visit campus to recruit PUC students. If I’ve never heard of this company before, sometimes even while on the phone with them, what do you think is the first thing I do? I Google them, of course. Most of the time everything looks good and I’m happy to post the position or set up a visit, but there have been a few times where things weren’t matching up and it seemed a little shady. In that case, I’m not going to promote them or give them access to our students. Not a perfect example, but you get the idea.
This spring I talked to a business owner hoping to hire some college students. He asked me to share with students that the first thing he does when he gets a resume is Google the person. Often their Facebook profile will pop up and even if everything is set to private, that profile picture comes up. He shared about seeing people in their profile picture doing drugs and alcohol, or profiles full of inappropriate language, or negativity about their bosses, schools, etc., usually not set to private at all. Again, that may not seem fair but it’s freely out there for anyone to see, so of course an employer is going to see it too if they look.
Some things may even seem really innocuous to us, but may not be to an employer. Even if you weren’t doing anything negative at all, are you tagged in a picture or post that may seem like it? Do you have tons of personal information out there about you? What if you’re going into social work or education or medicine? Do you want all your clients and students to know your birthday, that you had a date last weekend, and all about your family and vacation? I don’t. I also don’t want something like my Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to affect my future, or give information I don’t mean to share to strangers. Information about you online follows you forever and there are no guarantees about privacy. Just look at the news to see examples of this. We all have our professional lives and our personal lives, but they can often overlap in ways that really matter to our future and possibilities.
So what can you do about this?
- Google yourself. No joke, if someone else is going to, you should know too. Do it. Who knows, maybe a famous (or infamous) person has the same name.
- Set up a LinkedIn account or another professional networking site where those results will come up for employers to see and reinforce the amazing professional you are working to be.
- Check out these two sites to take control and don’t forget to set everything to private. Consider how you want to be perceived and make sure that that is the online presence you put out there.
- http://simplewa.sh/about – This site goes through your Facebook and Twitter content and brings up anything (including likes and comments) that could possibly be considered problematic so you can delete it or set it to private.
- http://brandyourself.com/ – This site is about moving the good stuff up on search results and minimizing the not-so-good.