By Leah Peterson
A couple of weeks ago the L&S Career Services staff got the chance to meet with the founder of Social Assurity, a business that promotes proactive social media use in a way that helps students or job seekers by creating a social media presence that embodies their own personality as well as showcases their skills that employers and colleges are looking for. Having the chance to hear and ask questions about online personal branding really opened my eyes to what I should be doing with my own online presence and made me realize that some things I originally thought about Twitter and Facebook are not always necessarily true.
What I walked away with from this meeting are some important points that all college students and job seekers should know:
- Let your personality shine through online. Like or retweet pages that hold some interest to you. Post about things you enjoy doing. Make this online space a true insight into your character and remember to be authentic to yourself.
- Don’t overshare, especially if it’s complaining about work. Employers don’t want to see you whining about your coworkers and bosses and how much you hate your current job because you could do the same thing at their company. In general, it’s a good rule of thumb to not use your social media pages as personal diaries.
- There are numerous ways to become more noticeable on LinkedIn. Some of the ways you can get yourself to stand out is by putting keywords that describe you and what you aspire to be into your summary statement (so when employers search for these key terms, your page comes up). Join groups on LinkedIn to broaden your outreach to people with similar backgrounds and interests, and get those recommendations on your profile from classmates, coworkers, supervisors, and professors.
- Don’t erase your online presence, but rather build on top of it. So yeah, you can keep some of those drinking pictures (as long as every other picture isn’t of you with some sort of alcoholic beverage), but make sure to intersperse other appropriate, telling features about yourself throughout your page.
- Portfolios and resumes don’t have to be limited to original means. You can also take advantage of online sites or creative outlets like Instagram or Pinterest to showcase past projects you have done or your prior experiences.
- Networking can be done on sites besides LinkedIn. Social media sites like Twitter are actually becoming a big source for job seekers to reach out to the companies they’d like to work for by getting involved in online chats.
- Avoid a case of mistaken identity by making your pages easier to identify. While some cases can be cool (Googling my own name results in a motorcycle stuntwoman), others can be detrimental to the online image you’ve been trying so hard to preserve, like criminal records or inappropriate content. To help combat a mistaken identity, associate your name with more identifiable features, like tacking on “Wisconsin” or “Madison” or even something as simple as your middle initial to your name and page.
As a college student, you should be concerned about what sort of image you are putting out into the online world. Sure, some things you post may seem silly or irrelevant to what an employer may be looking for, but as long as it speaks about you—and that you’re proud of that image—don’t be afraid to put your own sort of brand onto what you post on social media sites. Jobs want to see your personality shine through on these platforms. Also keep these tips in mind when sprucing up your social media and have it be a source that displays yourself and work, rather than it being a reason for not getting offered that job.