Like many freshman college students who have the terrifying experience of being assigned a potluck roommate, I Facebook-creeped and Twitter-creeped and Instagram-creeped and any-other-kinds-of-creeped to find out more about my future roommate. I had to make sure I wouldn’t be living with a sketchy person. I also really hoped that this not-sketchy person and I would be friends. Luckily, I got both wishes—though many of my friends did not fare as well. And, thanks to social media, I knew even before I showed up that first day—bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and an entire van full of my belongings—that this was going to be a good arrangement.
The reality is employers use a similar process when screening applicants. Employers are first screening for the obvious red flags—drugs and alcohol use, inappropriate pictures, discriminatory language, etc. You would be surprised how many qualified candidates get cut from the applicant pool because of these (very avoidable) red flags. Employers also use social media to assess personality and fit, much like many of us did with our freshman roommates.
Is this an overall good person? Can I get along with her? Will we click? Employers are asking similar questions...Can I trust this person? Will this candidate be a good fit for my company?
With this realization comes extra responsibility and pressure. Our parents definitely didn’t have to worry about this when they were looking for their first jobs—think landline phones and cassette players. But, growing up in the technological age does have its perks.
Social media can actually help you. True story. Just as your social media presence has the potential to ruin an opportunity, it also has the potential to leave recruiters with a positive opinion of you, which could lead to landing the job. After your embarrassing middle school and high school years—heck, even college—spent on MySpace, Facebook, and…Xanga (anyone?, anyone?), you acquired the social media know-how. You might as well use it to your advantage.
Here are two social media tips every college student can live by:
1. Be present.
Be present on social media. Remember the story of my freshman roommate? Her presence on social media was a huge signal that she was friendly, engaged, and sociable. My shameless Facebook stalking made me feel more comfortable “knowing” what kind of person I could expect her to be.
Continue to increase your social media presence on different channels and become visible to employers. This may include getting a LinkedIn account. It’s not just for graduates. Present yourself well and give employers a chance to confirm the good things they already know about you from your resume or initial introduction.
2. Reach out.
With social media you have the opportunity to connect with others on a whole new level. Reach out to your former employers, classmates, coworkers, friends, and the guy who gave you a free koozie at the career fair. Make yourself known. Be friendly and persistent.
When it comes down to it, your social media handles have the power to make or break your opportunities in the job search. You might as well let it give you a much needed extra boost.
Remember, you are the potluck roommate being creeped on. Will your social media handles represent you well?
Written by Emily. She is a student contributor on the Will Reed team helping deliver rewarding jobs & internships to college students.