Social media is great for documenting some of the best and coolest moments in our lives. But while we might look back at our photos and tweets and laugh at the things we did, potential employers might look at them and go “aw HELL no.” We’re talking about that photo of you when you were clearly plastered at 11pm in the pub, or that snarky tweet you sent mocking that one company or celeb after a PR blunder. Believe us, we’ve all been there, and it’s okay if you’ve done these things. The problem is that first impressions matter, and if your employer’s first impression of you is negative, they’re not likely to spend any more time on your application. Employers aren’t like your friends who understand what your lifestyle was like. They don’t know that you’re a very kind and helpful person 99% of the time. All they know is what they saw online when they went to see if you were a real person.
You are your own product, and you’re responsible for how you market yourself. You have to be aware of how you are seen (or not seen) in the public eye. You don’t want to miss out on an awesome job opportunity just because your potential employer saw your boudoir photoshoot on IG, right? Here is a quick list of things you need to get under control online before you try for that dream job.
Triple check your privacy settings, even if your profile is vanilla. Use the “View as” feature to see your profile as a potential employer/part-time Facebook stalker. If you see anything even remotely questionable, hide that shit and hide it good. If that means making the photo private or getting it deleted altogether, do what you gotta do. You might be tempted to just misspell your name on Facebook from “John Doe” to “Hnjo Eod”, but it takes a sec for google to catch up to that, so if your potential employer Googles your name, they might still stumble upon your photos from that one party from 2 years ago where you were caught puking your guts out on camera. Yeah, no. They don’t need to see that. Also, though rare, some employers refuse to hire people they can’t stalk on social media before hiring them. We’re not making this up.
Twitter and Instagram:
Go through your Twitter and Instagram and delete everything that makes you cringe. In fact, ask your friends for their opinions, because maybe your sense of humor skirts along the 'unacceptable' line. Don’t want to delete your exchange with Chance about how turnt you were gonna get that night? Then make your accounts private, at least temporarily while you’re still setting up those first impressions.
Granted, you probably don’t have anything ridiculous on Linkedin, but have you updated it recently? Do you have all of your relevant experience on there? Does reading your LinkedIn sound like reading your resume? (Hint: it shouldn’t). Update that thing. Make it easy to read and nice to look at. Tailor it to the kinds of jobs you’re looking for so you can get an added competitive edge.
Need more tips on brushing up your LinkedIn profile? We've got a whole blog post on optimizing it.
Try Googling yourself to see what shows up in search results. If something you don’t like pops up, see if you can do something about it. There are services out there that can help you manage your online reputation, if you want someone else to handle it. Just be aware that there might be people out there with your name or a name similar to yours that does things that are considered NSFW at your job. If this is the case, always have your LinkedIn profile on your applications with a clear photo of your face to show that you are not the same person. Last thing you want is to get rejected because they thought you were a part time porn star (#truestory).
Tinder and Other Dating Apps (yes, really)
Ooh boy. You’d be surprised the number of times an employee or an employer will run into your profile on Tinder. Sometimes it's accidental, sometimes intentional (we don't condone it, but we can't guarantee it won't happen...). It’s just the name of the game. Obviously you're allowed to date and do whatever you want on your personal time. But...just don’t put anything on there you wouldn’t let your grandma see.
BONUS: Get a professional email.
No, not your school email. No, not your pinkrzrfone91@live one. Get one with your first and last name. Set up a signature with information you want to share with the people you email, whether that’s a link to your professional website, your phone number, or even just school and graduation date. You mean business, so act like it.
Do you agree with the tips we gave? Feel like we missed something? Let us know!
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Gabriela Balicas is currently a Senior at Rice University, and the Content + Social Media Intern at Planted. Once upon a time, she studied bioengineering, but when she realized she couldn’t 3D print herself a perfect boyfriend, she decided to study sports medicine instead. When she’s not flexing in the mirror, she enjoys scrolling through drake memes and puppy videos on IG...and founding two separate clubs at her school, teaching undergrad classes, and running two successful food and photography blogs.