How many times have you heard someone’s name in a conversation and promptly looked them up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even LinkedIn? I imagine quite a lot.
So if you do it to people you may or may not know, what is stopping from recruiters doing the same thing when they see your name at the top of your CV?
It is perfectly reasonable to expect recruiters to search for candidates on social media and on search engines to find out as much as they can before inviting them to an interview. Therefore, it is important that you manage your online presence throughout university and beyond to ensure that social media helps, not hinders, your chances at getting your dream graduate job.
Tips on managing your online presence
There are two aspects of managing your online presence; keeping the private things private, and making sure that what is public can help you get your dream graduate job.
While it might be easy to think that the best way to manage your online presence is to not have one at all, you would be wrong. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 35% of employers are actually less likely to interview applicants that they can’t find online. So it’s important to get that balance between having the right things public and keeping the wrong things private.
1. Search for yourself
The first thing to do is to see what information the internet has on you (the stuff that’s widely available of course). Type your name into Google, Yahoo! and Bing, the three most commonly used search engines, and see what comes up. If you have a common name or share it with someone more well-known than you, do a few different searches such as including your location or university. Once you know what search results have on you, you can start managing your online presence.
2. Clean-up your social media
Like many of us, you have probably a spent a lot of your life online and there are probably some things on there that you would much rather be deleted. Once you have searched for yourself, you should be able to see what parts of your social media are public and which are private. This means that your next step is cleaning-up your accounts and getting rid of the things you don’t want recruiters to see.
Facebook offer you the chance to do a ‘Privacy Check-up’ to make sure that your privacy settings are up to date. For more information on managing your privacy settings on Facebook, we recommend going to the Facebook Privacy Basics page.
One thing to remember about Facebook is that people will always be able to see your name and your profile picture. If you really don’t want recruiters to find you on Facebook, then consider changing your profile to your first and middle name to make you more difficult to find.
Now is a good time to evaluate what you want your Twitter account to say about you. If you enjoy a political debate or sharing a good meme, then it might be a good idea to keep your Twitter profile private.
However, you can also use Twitter to your advantage, but we go into more detail about how further on in the article.
If you cannot possibly live without posting both memes and white papers, then consider having two Twitter accounts – one personal, private account, and another public, professional, account.
Despite being around for less than ten years Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users and the chances are you are one of those billion.
If your Instagram photos are mainly of your Saturday night antics, then it might be a good idea to keep your profile private. However, some use their Instagram profile as a way to share their hobby with the public. If you only use Instagram to show everyone your latest baking creation cycling route, then you may want to continue to keep your profile public, it will even help the recruiter find out more about you and what you enjoy doing outside of work or study.
The most important thing about LinkedIn is that it is a professional social network, so you should keep it as such. Keep the personal posts for your private Facebook page, and keep LinkedIn strictly business. You can read more about how to use LinkedIn to kickstart your graduate career here.
You should also be aware of how you conduct yourself online. Your online presence is more than just an inappropriate photo or embarrassing drunk status. Things such as retweeting from an unsavoury Twitter account or posting a fiery response under a Brexit opinion piece can all impact negatively on your chances at getting a graduate job.
3. Think about how to utilise your online presence
While the internet has its faults it’s not all bad, and when utilised, can help you get a graduate job.
Now you have cleaned-up your social media you can think about what you want your social media presence to say about you. Your character and personality should all align both on social media, in person and on your CV.
While we have mentioned using Twitter and LinkedIn to help your career, there are other ways you can use your online presence to help you get a graduate job.
While some tweets are better left on private, using Twitter to follow industry influencers and experts is a quick and easy way to keep up with the latest news and opinion, as well as sharing any content that you think is interesting. Interacting with people in your field and also showing off your expertise are all great ways to connect with interesting people in your industry. It also shows recruiters that you are taking an active interest in the industry you want to work in, proving that you are serious about your graduate career.
Keeping a blog
Another way of using your online presence to impress recruiters is through keeping a blog. A blog is a great creative outlet and will improve your writing, research and communication skills as well as giving you a chance to talk about the industry topics you feel passionately about.
If a recruiter comes across your blog, they will be able to see that you are serious about the profession you want to enter and that you take an active interest in the issues that will impact the industry, so much so that you write about it in your spare time.
Want to start a blog but are unsure where to start? Take a look at some of the industry blogs that are already around and go from there. You could even ask your connections on LinkedIn or Twitter for advice.
Your online footprint can be both a help and a hindrance when it comes to getting a graduate job, but as long as you keep your private life private, you can then use your public profile to your advantage.