The time has come to start applying for internships and jobs. Better race to your social media accounts to delete your last name and adjust your privacy settings, right? Well, not necessarily.
Many students and young professionals understand the importance of keeping their social media sites “clean” while searching for jobs or internships. However, putting a private lock on your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram won’t exactly help you land the opportunity you’re looking for either.
Public relations, communications and marketing students hear time and time again how important it is to establish their brand in order to effectively market themselves to potential employers. But finding a balance between having fun on social media while remaining professional can be difficult. Here are a few things you can do to achieve the balance that’ll allow you to still have fun on your social media channels but also help you land the opportunities you want.
Think before you post. This rule is common sense for many young professionals, yet many social media users fall victim to over-sharing. A Pew Research study reports that 19 percent of young adults have admitted to posting something on social media that they later regretted, and 59 percent report deleting content from their past. Inappropriate content isn’t exclusive to posts that contain curse words or talk about partying. Posts that put down others or your current place of employment are huge red flags to employers, as well. To play it safe, ask yourself what your mother (or grandmother) would say if she read your posts. Another important tip: Always read an article before you share or retweet it.
Establish a private vs. public presence. Most people use social media because it’s fun and it’s a way to interact with friends and express yourself. If you can’t keep your posts appropriate, make them private. However, it is important to know that private accounts do not help establish your online brand as a student. In order to have a competitive edge for opportunities in PR and marketing, you should have a public (and appropriate) profile you use regularly.
Follow influential people in your field. The easiest way to begin establishing your professional online presence is to follow key influencers in your field and share content that is interesting to you. If you’re in the communications field, start following organizations such as PRSA or AMA to interact with users who are active in the industry. You can also engage with companies you would like to work for one day as a way to get your foot in the door.
Make sure you still have personality. Your online brand should be a reflection of who you are, even if you are aiming for a more professional tone. Don’t overdo it by only sharing industry-related content that you think will impress others. Your followers will likely disengage if you are too rigid and never use a relaxed, natural tone.
The content you share on social media shouldn’t cost you a job or opportunity; it should help you land it. Remember that a company can check out your social media use before making a hiring decision. What do you want your future employers to see?
What are your tips for balancing a personal, yet professional social media account?