Facebook Professionalism: Employers are Watching

Career Services, located on the second floor of the University Center Photo Credit Kelly North SC Photography Editor & Asst. News Editor
Career Services, located on the second floor of the University Center Photo Credit Kelly North SC Photography Editor & Asst. News Editor

by Kate Space
Staff Writer

Think about it: What’s the first thing you do when you come across the name of someone you don’t know? You Facebook them—you can look at their pictures, see who they’re friends with, and even read recent status updates to get a feel of what they’re interested in. Well, employers are definitely hopping on the trend of tracking down applicants via sites such as Facebook and Twitter. We’ve all heard the saying, “A first impression is everything,” but with today’s technology, a potential employer may be able to gather an educated first impression of you before you ever enter his or her office for an interview.

Despite the well-organized resume you constructed and the professional handshake you’ve been practicing, a few clicks around your Facebook profile can send prospective employers packing before you even get the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face. For many ESU students, graduation nears as the spring semester reaches its final weeks. As their college careers come to a close, many seniors will begin their journey into the professional world with job fairs and interviews in their immediate future. As students begin to prepare to enter the “real world,” they should take a serious look at the way they present themselves in person as well as online.

According to Jan Hoffman, Assistant Director of Career Services at ESU, online profiles can play an important role when it comes to giving a professional appearance.

“It is so simple to do a Google search of an applicant’s name. Additionally, employers have the know-how to gain backdoor access to information you assume to be private. Students need to be aware and act responsibly,” she cautions. Quite frankly, the information posted on websites such as Facebook and Twitter can make or break a person’s image—there are some things that just should not be posted for everyone to see.

“Students need to be concerned about the impression they create,” Hoffman says. “The way your social media pages are managed is indicative of your level of self-awareness, responsibility and maturity—all of which are leadership traits sought out by employers. Students spend so much time creating their resume and preparing themselves for an interview in effort to make a good impression. To contradict that message with a questionable online profile is counterproductive.”

Many of us are guilty of posting pictures of ourselves with friends at parties, clubs and bars—at times with drinks in hand. Some people even post pictures of themselves or others doing keg stands and beer funnels. For many, these pictures represent memories of fun times with friends. Can these kinds of pictures really affect our chances of landing a job in the future? According to Hoffman, the answer is yes.

“If there are any pictures you wouldn’t want your boss to see, that’s probably a good sign that you shouldn’t have them on Facebook,” Hoffman explains. “Many employers conduct online searches of job candidates before making hiring decisions, so those pictures from a crazy party become really uncool.” In addition to pictures, status updates and wall posts can also be damaging to a person’s professional image. “Keep your comments positive or at the very least generic. This is particularly important if you’re looking for a job or keeping in touch with colleagues on Facebook.” Hoffman also suggests going through friend lists, changing privacy settings, and editing Facebook walls in order to make profiles appear more presentable to potential employers. “Going through and deleting recent clutter on your wall can create a more professional appearance,” she explains.

To remedy the issues with Facebook, Hoffman recommends that students create a Linked-In account, which allows users to connect with other professionals and professional organizations. “This way, if asked by an employer for social media information, [students] can gladly share their Linked-In profile.”

For a generation with such an immense amount of knowledge and experience with technology, it is important to make sure that students use their online profiles to further their professional careers, not hinder their chances at being considered for jobs in the future. Many students, particularly graduating seniors, should consider what kind of image is being projected by their Facebook profiles and make the necessary adjustments.

“Quite honestly,” Hoffman concludes, “if you aren’t proud of it—don’t do it—and certainly don’t post it!”

To learn more about the LinTo learn more about the Linked-In online community or to create a profile, go to www.linkedin.com. For questions about resumes, interview preparations, and finding jobs after graduation, visit the Career Resources Center located on the top floor of the University Center.

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