Think that what you post stays between you and your friends? Well, that’s not the case—employers may look for online information about students as they apply for internships and jobs. Recently, Career Services hosted “Do You Pass the Social Media Recruitment Test?” This event served as an introduction to the ways students can use social media tools – among them Facebook, Twitter, and of course LinkedIn – in the job search and offered tips on how to manage your online reputation. (Career Services offers similar events every semester, so watch their event calendar or the weekly CareerNews e-newsletter to see when the next one will be offered.)
The session began with the obvious question – what is the Internet saying about you? Students in attendance looked themselves up on dogpile.com and other websites, and happily none uncovered too much unsavory information. Some found videos of themselves, and the one post-doc present saw links to his research that he didn’t know existed. Kathleen Mannheimer, Senior Associate Director of Career Services, who hosted the event, said students may be surprised what information exists about them online and what employers can easily access. She suggested setting up Google alerts with your name so you can see what comes up in searches. She also suggested that when posting anything online, students should consider whether they would want to see that information, photo, etc. printed in the newspaper. If you happen to come across anything you would not want to see as public information, lifehacker.com has good tips how to remove information from the Internet. Check out this infographic entitled, “The Google Yourself Challenge” to learn more.
The presentation then shifted to LinkedIn, the social media platform that was founded with the express purpose of business networking. Despite this, Mannheimer said employers can use any social media platform, even Twitter and Pinterest, to track and source candidates. Mannheimer showed one of LinkedIn’s educational videos on creating a professional profile. Tips included uploading a business-like picture and giving an in-depth summary of your experiences. LinkedIn has undergone a number of changes to be more applicable to students. “In the very early stages, it was primarily for experienced professionals,” Mannheimer said. A LinkedIn page now includes opportunities for student data such as GPA and relevant coursework.
Other features of LinkedIn include the ability to search by company or industry and to research a role model’s career path. Mannheimer suggested that students reach out to recent hires at their dream companies and ask how they landed the job. She also discussed that when reaching out to professionals on LinkedIn, it is not the same as “friend requesting” on Facebook. You should add a professional introduction and message to your request for connection.
Facebook and Twitter can also be good sources for job information. Companies often have pages specifically devoted to recruiting on Facebook, and there are Twitter handles that exclusively post job openings, such as @TweetMyJobs.
Despite the increasing relevance of social media platforms in the job search, one stands out. “LinkedIn is going to be the most important for you right now,” Mannheimer said. Career Services staff can help you review your LinkedIn profile in the same way they offer resume critiques. If you would like assistance, schedule an appointment.
On a final note, I suggest all students search their name on the Internet to see what information turns up and review their social media presence to find out what an employer might see. Now’s the time to “own” your online reputation!