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Facebook and Your Professional Persona

It’s nearly impossible to avoid social media, especially as a college student. And many of us would agree that there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that. But unfortunately numerous students don’t realize the potential implications of posting things irresponsibly—especially when the time comes to make the transition into the professional world.

Once you decide to pursue an internship, co-op or full-time job, you’re likely spending a lot of time focusing on your job search. After all, that’s the whole point of getting a degree, right? Something that doesn’t occur to a lot of students is that they may need to do some “cleaning up” of their online presence prior to kicking off their job hunt…especially if it is indicative of your partying habits.

Employers have begun turning to social media sites, especially Twitter and Facebook, to pre-screen their candidates. Recruiters don’t want to see photos of you dominating in beer pong or passed out on a front lawn somewhere. They also don’t want to read about your questionable escapades via status updates (yours or someone else’s). This is not to say that recruiters are naïve and think their future employees are perfect model citizens—in fact, many of them were likely in your shoes at some point. But social media had added a whole new arena for displaying poor decision making. You want an employer to be impressed with your professional persona; you don’t want to become the subject of office gossip before you even have the chance to step foot in the door.

Nance Rosen, a social media expert, tells the tale of one Facebook user whose quiz results appear on his page: “This person regularly takes quizzes that broadcast the least admirable of all his personality traits. He's a financial whiz kid and a fast learner, she said, but there's no proof of that on his wall. The quiz results said he is self-centered and people either loved him or hated him. This is too much information of the wrong type for potential employers to see. Even the fact that Facebook users are called 'friends' leads people to let down their guard, perhaps a little too much.” (2009, p. 14)

You don’t have to cut all ties with the social media world in order to protect your image—just be smart! Remove any questionable content, including tagged photos and inappropriate commentary. Also make sure that you don’t make negative remarks about your current job or discuss other people in a non-flattering way. Tell your friends to be aware of what they choose to post too. Above all—make all of your profiles private. Earning the title of ‘biggest partier’ amongst your friends will never outshine a killer job offer!

“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas; what happens on Twitter stays on Google forever!”
- Jure Klepic

References: Rosen, N. (2009). Social media both asset and hindrance in job search. Mortgage Marketing: Short Sales. 19 (1). 14-15.



Authored by an ECS guest.



About the author

Krysta Kirsch

Krysta Kirsch is a Previous On-Campus Recruiting Coordinator at Engineering Career Services.