So you’ve got your diploma in hand, and you’re about to embark on the first step to adulthood – finding your first job as a graduate.
Hold on! Before you send out that killer resume you’ve been working on for the last few weeks, stop and take a long, hard look at how the rest of the world sees you.
We all know by now that those Facebook pictures of that wild, drunken party should be taken down, along with that shot of you in a swimsuit with the humorously-placed balloon. But what about the less obvious employer turn-offs?
Numerous studies have shown that 35 percent of employers will look at your Facebook page to screen you after reading your resume. So you should really be thinking of your Facebook profile as your first interview.
If you’re ready for your section-by-section Social Media makeover, let’s begin:
1. The Basics: Your Profile Picture
Your Profile picture should reflect how you want the world to see you. That’s not to say you should wear a suit and tie, but make sure at least you are smiling, wearing actual clothes and looking semi-presentable.
In these days of password fatigue, more and more websites are offering a convenient “Login via Facebook.” This has the net effect of plastering your Facebook profile picture all over the web. Many of us change our profile picture to something silly as a joke, and forget to change it, so keep tabs on your profile picture at all times.
2. Your ‘About Me’ Section
In the past, you may have used this section to crack jokes, be clever or generally monkey around. Those days are over. Write a short but sweet summary of yourself, and use it to play up any job-related personal interests you may have.
Because this section is in a high-profile place on your profile, this is the place to include job-related info that you want your prospective employer to take a peek at. Keep a job-relevant PG-13 blog or website? Add a link here so that employers will see it.
3. Your News Feeds
With the rollout of the new Timeline feature, whoever is looking at your page can now click on any year since you started your profile, and read all the juicy gossip from three summers ago, without having to scroll down for eighteen hours. Re-read your activity stream from the last couple months. Imagine yourself as a potential employer reading your page.
4. Your Interests and Hobbies
Don’t make your prospective employer wince when they look at your interests section. Trim your 10,000 interests down and keep them ultra-relevant. Hiring managers will look at this section to get a picture of what kind of a lifestyle you lead outside of work.
If your interests show a connection to your chosen career path, great. But if you are applying to be a pediatric nurse and your interests include blood sports, shooting and books about satanic rituals … guess what? You’re probably not getting the job.
5. Do a ‘Red Flag Check’ on Yourself
Up till now, you’ve probably had a very relaxed agenda for your social media pages. But now you are selling yourself as a potential employee and, like it or not, hiring managers notoriously hire and fire people based on the content of their social media pages. So put on your policeman’s cap and give your Facebook profile a thorough pat-down.
Facebook ‘Red Flags’ include:
- Swearing/ profanity.
- Long rants ALL IN CAPS – employers may question your temper.
- Racist, sexist or homophobic jokes.
- Attacks on another person or on a past company where you’ve interned.
- Hotbed subjects like gun groups, anti-immigration rallys, abortion debates.
- A profile that is all cat pictures.
A study conducted by Don Kluemper of Northern Illinois University brought to light some of these not-so-obvious red flags: “… a person with obvious mood swings, who is overly emotional in their postings would not be an attractive candidate.”
6. If in Doubt – Set Your Profile to Private
If you’ve been burning the midnight oil frantically editing your profile, and now it’s 7 a.m. the next day and you’ve STILL only got as far down as January 2013 – it might be time to gracefully admit defeat and just set your profile to private. You can choose to work on it some other time or just create a whole new profile for your new, professional self, whichever’s easiest.
Either way, as you post to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram in future, bear in mind that now you have graduated, you’re in the adult world now. As you update your sites in future, remember the above rules, and your social media (and your sanity) will be much better prepared for the world of work.