17 Social Media Resolutions For The Career-Minded Student
The use of social media has risen to, some would say, epidemic proportions. It has taken over our lives, enabled us to make bad decisions, and become a liability in the job search.
While this may not be true for you personally, you have to admit there are many people, even in your own friends network, who make massive mistakes that can jeopardize their personal relationships and future/current career options.
You do not want to be one of those people that other look and jeer at with allegations of “TMI” and the like. You want social media to be an extension of the best of you.
To help you ensure 2017 is a successful year in this regard, we have put together 17 social media resolutions that any career-minded student needs to enact at once if not doing so already. Let’s get started!
1. Keep the personal to a minimum.
Social media was a tough one to figure out at first. For the first time in the history of the Internet, having your own personal “space” — free of charge and easy to set up — was possible.
It was not clear how massive it would become and how easy it made connectivity. A connected world is a good thing in many ways, but when you do not know how to reel yourself in, it can be as problematic as it is beneficial.
What happened in the beginning — and what still happens way too often today — is that users fail to realize the extent of the personal information they are making available.
Everything from political views to vacation plans and embarrassing family dramas play out on sites like Facebook and Twitter with great frequency. Guilty users are essentially creating a backlog of bad behavior that is easy to search and find for a number of employers.
2. Do not air dirty laundry, ever.
There is dirty laundry, and there is dirty laundry. One kind of dirty laundry is easy to fix, and there is really no need to discuss it. The other, however, can be impossible to correct once it is “out there” for all the world to see.
We are talking, of course, about family or relationship drama. This is your space. Why would you want to bring in 500 or 1,000 other people you barely know on that stuff, and then create a permanent record that could find its way to that next job opportunity?
Dirty laundry, whether you created it or not, can follow you for years and create a chain reaction of personal humiliations that are hard to live down.
Even when you think you are “past it,” it can tear open old wounds when you least expect it and keep your struggles in a perpetual state of freshness that is detrimental to every aspect of life.
3. Learn to be more vanilla.
What is the point of being on social media if you have to be plain about everything? Well, we are not saying to be so “plain Jane” that you are too boring to follow. We are simply saying you want to do a better job of curating your posts.
If you second-guess what you are about to post, as a general rule of thumb, then you probably should not post it. Approach the dilemma from the point of view of an employer. If you do not have a lot of experience with employers, think of someone in a position of authority over you.
What would they have to say about the post? Would they think less of you? Discipline you? If it is a negative reaction they give, then you can only assume an employer or potential employer will react the same way. There is no better motivator for working towards vanilla than the loss of respect or a paycheck.
4. Showcase your best work whenever possible.
The further you go into creating a professional-friendly social media profile, the more you will want to be choosy with the things you choose to share as examples of what you can do.
We all have work that gives us a feeling of pride and accomplishment, and, conversely, we all have work that we do because we have to do. Sometimes those things can overlap, and if they do, great!
All too often, though, we simply do enough to get by so we can move onto things that matter more to us. Those are probably not the types of work examples you should be sharing on social media.
But you should share on social media, particularly if you are going to use it to attract employers and provide them with the confidence they are going to need to hire you.
Whenever you have a work example that gets praise from a superior or something multiple people have praised you for, boast about it on social media. If it is an article or a special report, for example, you may wish to create a link for it and upload to the website.
This will give everyone a sense of your capabilities and competencies.
5. Confine your personal stuff to one account.
If you have difficulty keeping your personal life personal, at least take this vital step to protecting yourself from unwanted and unnecessary job-related fallout. Let’s say that you have a high profile on the Facebook platform. You want to use it for professional reasons. Fine. Use it.
But whenever you have the urge to sound off on Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton — whenever you want to launch into a tirade about how your family takes you for granted — whenever you feel compelled to bash an ex — head over to SnapChat instead.
Then, don’t tell a potential employer you are on SnapChat. Chances are they will not want to go anywhere near it anyway, so it should be easy keeping your profile confined to the right people and out-of-reach from future Mr. or Mrs. Bossman/woman.
If you respect yourself and want to succeed, you owe it to yourself to put that best foot forward.
6. Treat the ‘About’ sections like a resume.
The “About” section of Facebook or wherever else you keep a social media profile is a tremendous opportunity to show off why a potential employer should think about taking a chance on you.
While many social media users will try to get too cutesy or share favorite inappropriate quotes, you have the opportunity to stand out and send the message that you “get it” when it comes to Facebook and the rest.
Write in third person if the section is just “About.” Third person would be saying things like this. “(Your name) majored in engineering at State University and quickly found he wanted to take the next step. Upon graduation, (You) enrolled in a master’s degree program at….” You get the point.
If the section is “About Me,” that will come across awkward, so feel free to use “I,” but maintain the straight-forward and professional tone.
7. Use social media for outreach, but…
Social media can be a great tool for connecting directly with an employer or some stakeholder in the hiring process. In fact, whenever you can’t get more intimate personal information about someone, you can usually still hunt them down on Facebook and send a message.
Many people do not think the message will ever be seen or replied to, so they don’t bother. Big mistake. Even if you are correct, you will stand a better chance of getting a response than if you don’t try at all.
As you would with any professional form of communication, do not use shorthand like IMO (in my opinion) or emojis. This is a professional correspondence, so make sure you have done your homework on the company and the individual.
In other words, you may be on Facebook, but you do not need to talk like you are on Facebook.
8. Focus on email for professional purposes.
Social media is not the preferred method of reaching out to hiring decision makers. It should be used as a last resort. Whenever you really need to reach out to someone or send in a resume, do email. Always, always, always.
Now we would go a little further with that recommendation and advise only sending outreach communications to individual people within the organization.
It can be a challenge tracking down the personal information needed to do so, but it will greatly enhance your chances of getting a response whenever you decide to go this route.
What would you rather do — play the averages and hope that one person responds after emailing 12 resumes in an hour, or spend one hour finding three names and getting a response to all three of your resumes? We would take the latter. So should you.
9. Secure all your settings.
We have spent a good portion of this article saying, “Do this, don’t do this.” While we will stand by that, you can reduce the amount of job-related headache that social media can cause you by simply tooling your network’s social settings to exclude certain information you share from sensitive sources.
The only problem with this, is if you are customizing what people see, there will still be vulnerabilities. For example, you could say something off-color that someone forwards along to your employer out of spite. (It has happened.)
In other words, word can still get around especially if you are behaving like the jackass we are advising you not to be. So why step out of line in the first place, right?
To be clear, take both steps. Change your settings to ensure you are controlling who sees what, and don’t give anyone ammunition to go after you.
10. Police your interactions with others and from others.
This is one area where bad behavior can sneak through in ways you did not even plan for it to.
Let’s say that you get into a spirited discussion with a friend about the inconsistencies and contradictions of a certain religion. Your boss or future boss happens to be a staunchly religious sort.
You do not think anything of the spirited discussion that ensued, but that is because you expressed who you are and it just comes naturally for you. No problem, right?
Wrong. At the same time you are breathing easy, your boss-figure could be scouring social media for information on you and come across the conversation, which could in turn view how he sees you as a person.
Such disagreements and prejudices have been known to cost people jobs, promotions, and even acceptances to certain colleges and universities.
Now there may be the temptation to say, “So? Why would I want to work for that guy anyway?,” that is an immature way of approaching the world (at best).
To get anywhere in life, you will have to work with and for people you do not see eye-to-eye with. Some you may even hate. Doesn’t cheapen the opportunities you receive.
Moral of the story: be mindful not just of what is on your page, but also of what you are saying to other people in comments threads on yours and their page.
11. Don’t be political.
Just don’t do it. It’s obnoxious. No one cares what you think. You won’t be changing anyone’s mind.
12. Be positive, even when it is difficult.
The social media resolutions we are sharing with you here are unusual for most. Many people use their pages as modes of expression that are not altogether healthy.
People can bait you with opinions they know to be provocative and unpopular just so they can have the attention of a good argument. It’s also an easy way of screaming out about a particularly bad day you may be having.
The problem is that you are not simply putting that negativity out there for yourself. You are showing it to everyone and creating unnecessary drama for yourself.
The remedy to this, of course, is positivity. If you can act and react with positivity, you will present the kind of personality that people — even fake social media people — will want to be around. More importantly, however, you will show that you understand boundaries, and employers will love that.
13. If you cannot be positive, be silent.
We understand that positivity can be hard to come by, particularly in a year when we’ve had one of the most bitter elections of all time and we lost Princess Leia. That’s okay. No one is saying you have to be Polly Perky. Besides people can usually see right through it when you are being disingenuous.
The answer to all this — silence. Contrary to what all the social media networks would have you to believe, you do not have to have an opinion on everything. Sometimes staying quiet is the best possible way to present yourself.
As the old saying goes, “Speak softly but carry a big stick.” Let your actions fill the void when you either do not have an opinion on something or your opinion would only create more conflict.
In the job search context, an employer will make as much note of what is not on your profile as what is. If you don’t suffer fools, if you treat your platform like it’s the best representation of you, even when it means staying silent, they will “hear” you loud and clear.
14. Use LinkedIn more.
LinkedIn has long been seen by students as a social media box you have to tick. It isn’t particularly useful, but you are supposed to put up your school and employment information as a sort of glorified resume anyway because, after all, everyone else is doing it.
If this is how you view LinkedIn, then you are clearly not getting the most out of it. LinkedIn, like the other social media websites, is good at allowing you to display your credentials and personal information in a way that makes you more attractive to employers.
However, it also has a career-related focus that cuts through the ordinary everyday bull and removes the noise that keeps you from connecting to the people that matter.
LinkedIn also makes it incredibly easy to go further down a rabbit hole. If you are already connected to one employer, for instance, you can easily see related industries that might make for great job leads further down the road.
15. Review your friends and your history on a regular basis.
Some friends are just not worth holding onto, especially if they misuse social media and continually force you to address them. We have had a few real-life friends, who completely abused their privileges on Facebook, forcing our hand to unfriend simply because they could not control their language.
When someone uses bad language or inappropriate talk on their own page, there is nothing you can do (or really need to). It is not affecting you, after all. When they bring it over to your page, it’s another story.
It ends up painting a picture to potential employers that this is the kind of company you keep. While it may not be an automatic disqualifier for an open position, it cannot help your chances to have such friends sharing such comments on your own page.
On a regular basis, we recommend you purge your friends list of “unproductive” types and also go back through your past interactions to make sure you are not engaging with inappropriate conversations. Employers do go back into your history a bit, so make sure it is squeaky clean as much as possible.
16. Be willing to help others.
Giving of yourself will come through in the types of people that are drawn to your page. If you are someone who looks out for other people, they will respect you there as in real life.
By opening your social media world to others, you expand the types of contacts that bring goodwil, job leads, and other positive qualities.
Your willingness to help will make other people willing to help you.
One of the best examples of this is the film It’s a Wonderful Life — a Christmas and New Year’s favorite. In the film, George Bailey has big dreams, but he sets each of those dreams aside for other people time after time.
He sacrifices everything for the good of the town, and when George is in a place where he needs the help, they rise to the occasion and reciprocate all of his good deeds in one stirring finale.
While the benefits for you are more likely to trickle in, they can lead to life-changing opportunities over time.
17. Be available.
Making yourself available through social media can take many forms, but for our purposes, we want to focus simply on how employers are able to get in touch with you.
While most employers will visit your social media at some point, they tend to prefer contacting you through more official means. So make sure they have a way of doing so.
Share your email address, your phone number, whatever personal form of contact you are comfortable with other people having.
We actually include both. Email is easy to keep up with and our primary form of communication, so we’re there anyway. Phone calls are super-easy to screen thanks to voice-mail. Why not be accessible? If someone is interested in hiring you, don’t make it hard for them.
So there you have it, readers — the 17 social media resolutions you can put to work for yourself in 2017. If you are not already using these, it is time to start. Employers are getting more knowledgable of warning signs and how to find them.
Give them less ammunition, and you will be able to say with confidence that you’ve put your best foot forward. Now, what are some resolutions we left off? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Pixabay]