7 Tips for Job-Seeking College Students on Social Media Etiquette

Big Brother is watching and what you do and say online could cost you that job

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College seniors, let’s talk social media etiquette 101. You’ve worked hard to position yourself for a great position with the company of your dreams. You’ve gotten good grades, you have great internship experience and you’ve demonstrated great leadership on campus. All this can be undone in a few keystrokes if you’re not careful.

In today’s hi-tech world, potential employers use your social network profiles to validate your judgment and credibility as a candidate for jobs they’re posting. In essence, your social network profile acts as your new FICO score (how the financial industry evaluates how credit-worthy you are to potential lenders) in that it’s now being used to validate your character to potential employers. Here are a couple of data points from the Jobvite Social Recruiting 2011 survey that communicate how employers are using social networks for evaluating candidates:

  • 45% of companies always search social network profiles of candidates.
  • 89% of companies will recruit in social networks this year.

This is a snapshot of why it is important to manage your online presence. In an effort to help steer you in the right direction, here are 7 Tips of Social Media Etiquette:

1. Status Updates: Posting content that relates to your area of study can position you as a candidate that stays current in his/her area of expertise. Including links to content solidifies that you’re actively identifying valuable content to share with your community.

2. Checking-In: Location-based check-ins such as Foursquare or Facebook Places can be a great way to connect with people in the real world. Your check-ins communicates a lot about you as a person, your lifestyle, the places you frequent and the time you visit those locations. Make sure what you’re sharing reflects what you want to communicate to the outside world.

3. Profanity on Facebook Wall: A recent study by Reppler, which studied 30K Facebook users, identified that 47% of Facebook walls contain profanity. Be sure to monitor and manage your Facebook wall because what’s there communicates a lot about your personal brand to potential employers—even if it’s your friends who are posting the profanity on your wall.

4. Angry Posts: Your social networks are not the place to have meaningless arguments or to create angry posts where you go back and forth discussing non-value added content. Take these discussions offline and save yourself the embarrassment of coming off angry or hateful.

5. Spamming on Your Wall: If people are tagging you on photos and put posts on your wall that are not related to you that’s spam. You can adjust your settings and restrict permission by blocking people from leaving comments on your wall. You want to look like someone that’s ready to work not just another billboard.

6. Embarrassing Photos: This is one of the most important tips and can never be over emphasized. It’s essential to remove or untag yourself from embarrassing photos that don’t represent you in a positive light. What was funny to you and your friends may be a big red flag for potential employers. Private moments should remain that way.

7. Engage Your Community: When posting content remember to engage your community versus focusing on content about you. You never know who is listening to your online conversations and you don’t want to come off as being self-centered or arrogant.

Hajj Flemings is a weekly technology columnist for BlackEnterprise.com, founder of Brand Camp University, and the author of the book Brand YU Life. As a speaker and brand strategist, he works with some of the largest brands, covering the topics of branding and digital technology. Check back next Wednesday for his next column. Until then, feel free to follow him on Twitter @HajjFlemings or continue the conversation on Hajj’s BE Insider page at beinsider.ning.com/HajjEFlemings.

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