As we’ve discussed this week, social media can be leveraged to engage students and expand your own social network. However, many of us also use it for personal reasons, and the line between personal and professional can begin to fade. There is a certain level of privacy lost by displaying personal information online, and it’s important to be mindful of the history you’re leaving behind as you post. This can be particularly important for job seekers and for your students who are starting their quest for employment.

In New Perspectives: Portfolio Projects for Soft Skills, author Beverly Amer writes that “knowing how to manage your online brand has never been more important” (p. 27). Amer writes that though when we share information on sites like Facebook our aim may be to share that information with friends and family members, those looking to hire you may also use information they find to give them a better picture of the person they’re looking to potentially employ. Knowing how to properly manage this “online brand” has become important in today’s professional world, and Amer points to research that shows that many employers are utilizing searches to screen potential candidates (p. 29).

Though they can’t question job seekers about their personal lives in the course of interviews, applicants may have already provided information online about who they are outside of work. Amer recommends avoiding certain topics when posting online, including: age, unprofessional screen names, political affiliation, and personal correspondence intended only for friends or family (p. 30).

So we know a few things not to share about ourselves online, but what could be beneficial to add to our online personas? Amer lists a few items, gleaned from a survey conducted by ERE Media, that companies are looking for online. Those include: Verification of content on your resume – seeing that your skills listed align with what you’re sharing, professional associations or affiliations, and proof that you have the capacity to be original and inventive (p. 30). She recommends that joining and utilizing a social networking site that has a business orientation, like LinkedIn, can also help demonstrate that job seekers are serious about their careers and their online brand (p. 32).

Do you warn your students about the potential impacts of their “online brand”? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below. 

Reference: Content adapted from Amer, Beverly. 2012. New Perspectives: Portfolio Projects for Soft Skills. Boston, MA. Cengage Learning.