Most of us use social media for a variety of reasons—connecting with others, getting the latest news and gossip, sharing cat videos. But when you’re looking for a job or applying to college, you need to make sure your pages are on point. Hiring managers and college admissions officers are increasingly using social media to screen candidates before making their decisions.
Forty percent of college admissions officers say they look at applicants’ social media pages, and 30 percent say they Google potential candidates to learn more about them, according to a 2015 Kaplan survey of 400 college admissions officers.
Hiring managers are on top of their social media game too. A 2015 CareerBuilder survey of 2,000 employers showed that more than half were using social media to research job candidates. So what does this mean for you?
Keep your social media pages career and college friendly with these tips:
- Review your privacy settings. Limit who sees your posts and how much of your page they see. Consider only making posts public that highlight your accomplishments or positive things about you.
- Make sure your profile photo is up-to-date and appropriate. This is a great way for admissions officers and hiring managers to get a feel for who you are before they meet you in person.
- Delete any incriminating or inappropriate photos or posts. Avoid posting these while you’re looking for a job or applying to college. Better yet, avoid them altogether and strive to keep things positive on social media.
- Update your profiles. If you have special skills, talents, or interests, make sure your pages reflect that.
- Showcase your skills or involvement in causes. If you mention a skill or cause you’re involved in on your application, post a public video or picture of it to your social media account as proof. College admissions officers say they check these things out when applicants mention them. Just make sure to keep your personal information private, for safety reasons.
Thinking about deleting your social media pages altogether? Don’t. More than a third of hiring officials say they wouldn’t extend a job offer to someone who didn’t have a social media footprint, according to a CareerBuilder survey. So keep your pages up, but make sure they work for you (and not against you).