Fake It Till You Make It

By: Mahina Husain @hiinabebs

We all know social media is a great tool to connect with friends, post photos, share funny moments and show your personality to the world. However, it can also cost you a job. Over 60% of employers reported using social media to research job candidates. Of those employers, 55% said the reconsidered an applicant because of something they found. So what can we, college students, do to prepare our profiles for the “real world”?

1. Get Active

We are the technology generation, use that to your advantage. Think of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter as tools to help you get your dream job. 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent, 65% use Facebook and 55% use Twitter. By getting active on these sites you are helping get your name, face and talent out there. Join conversations, like, retweet, share all these things help to show that you are involved in a community.

2. Clean House

Go through your friends and followers to find those acquaintances who post questionable content. If you wouldn’t post it yourself you may not want it connecting back to you. The people you virtually surround yourself with says a lot about you. Employers don’t want to see a bunch of posts about alcohol and drugs, and they probably don’t want to see that you associate with people who post a lot about alcohol and drugs. Apps like Tweepi and InstaGhost can help you clean through your connections.

3. Use Correct Grammar

More than half of recruiters say that they have had a negative reaction to someone’s grammar usage on their social media. It only takes a moment to read over that Tweet or Facebook post. Using correct grammar makes you look professional and makes your opinions seem more valid. For students hoping to enter into communications, writing is going to be a major part of your job. If you can’t spell something on your social media how can an employer expect you to write well for them?

4. Don’t Badmouth Anyone

Yes, the 1st Amendment to the Constitution gives you free speech but you probably definitely don’t want to use that right to badmouth any past coworkers, bosses or offices. So what if you want an Apple instead of a PC at your desk, or a new coffee pot in the break room keep these things to yourself. Complaining for all to see can be taken as petty and would you want to hire someone who seems petty?

5. First Impressions Matter

Is your profile photo of you at a party? Is it of your kids or your dog? Is it blurry? Are you wearing inappropriate clothing? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, change your profile picture. Use a clean professional photo, one that you would proudly show your grandma and hang on her mantle. Let your potential employer see you as someone who would fit well into their organization.

The bottom line is you can be a college student and have a professional profile online. These tips might seem obvious but a majority of college students don’t follow them and it ends up costing them a job. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have opinions or questionable friends, rather that you keep those things private. Like the title suggests sometimes you just have to fake it till you make it.

This Article Has 13 Comments
  1. Karalyn Arnett says:

    Great post, Mahina. My J 452 class talked about this earlier during this term, and I think for the most part my whole class was ready to delete all their social media accounts and start from scratch. The idea of employers hiring you based off of your social media accounts is intimidating, but the same thought also keeps people, heavily college students, accountable for the content they are sharing with the world.

  2. Jon Fisher says:

    Good advice! I don’t think we as students realize how big of a role that social media plays in landing a job. Even before meetings a candidate for the first time, companies are likely gleaning information and making assumptions about that person from their social media profiles. You bring up a great point of not associating with acquaintances who post inappropriate content. The people we follow and are friends with on social media is a direct representation of who we are in the mind of an employer. We need to make sure the cards aren’t stacked against us before the interview even starts!

  3. Jennifer Kim says:

    I find this post very helpful for college students! I feel like us college students get lost in social media and sometimes we post things that could hurt us when it comes to getting a job. I’ve definitely went through all my social media channels to filter my posts before I submitted job and internship applications. I’m literally “faking it ‘til I’m making it!”
    I also think your first point is very relevant. It’s important to filter yourself on social media, but it’s also important to show your values and involvement within the community. I recently interviewed with Nordstrom for an internship and I felt like they definitely went through my social media channels to get to know the “real” me. I’ve posted pictures of myself at the Women’s March and since I was interviewing to intern for an inclusive company, I felt like that post really helped them know that I’m all about inclusion and diversity and live up to the company’s values.

    Thank you, Mahina!

  4. Sean Willcox says:

    Great post, Mahina. I was shocked to see that 55% of employers say they’ve reconsidered an applicant after finding something questionable on their social media profiles. As a college student, finding the correct balance between personal and professional on social media can be tough, but the consequences of failing to so are too important to ignore. I really liked your advice about having a profile picture that your grandma would put on the mantle, a common sense approach like this feels less restrictive than some advice your hear about professionalism. I think conducting yourself with a certain level of restraint on social media is particularly important in these polarizing times. If you wouldn’t say what you’re about to post in front of your boss than maybe it’s best to leave it unsaid.

  5. Jennifer Kinsman says:

    Great blog post!
    The part of this post that stood out to me the most is number 2: clean house. I didn’t think about the fact that my friends or acquaintances could bring me down while looking for jobs. It does make sense though because the people you surround yourself with influence your behavior. I don’t think enough people think about this aspect but it always important to keep all platforms professional and appropriate. The other aspect of this blog post that I related to is that first impressions matter. I agree with this 100%. At this point in time, everyone should have a professional headshot that they can use on their LinkedIn and Facebook profile. I think that for Twitter and Instagram you can be a little more free with what your profile picture is.

  6. Brianna Martin says:

    This is a good post, Mahina. I love to show my personality through my social media accounts, but as a career becomes a more and more immediate goal it is vital to make content something that I would be okay with employers seeing. A point that is not always brought up when discussing the matter of social media acontent is “2. Clean House”. I hadn’t thought about this, but it is very easy to see who people are connected with on social media, so I agree it would be wise to manage my followers/who I follow as well.

  7. Kylie Elliot says:

    Such an interesting read! I think that people our age sometimes do not realize how important social media is in getting a job. There are people who’s job it is to sit and go through potential new employees’ social media accounts to see if there is anything wrong. I had never really thought about cleaning out the people the I was connected to before but it totally makes sense that you do not want to follow/be followed by people on social media who would make you look bad. In an age where social media is so important, people really need to start thinking about their posts and followers.

  8. I definitely agree with your post, Mahina! From the beginning of my student career in the SOJC, I’ve been hearing these exact same things. J100 with Kathryn Kuttis really nailed it in! I didn’t even have a LinkedIn prior to starting at the SOJC, and I would have never thought to get one or how to “clean up” my social media presence. It’s definitely a difficult task to take on when our generation’s digital footprint stems back as far as it does. Great advice and post.

  9. Shannon Elliott says:

    Great tips! I definitely agree with all of your points! I think that first impressions are extremely important and now, more than ever, employers are using our social media accounts and profiles to make their first impression of us. There are so many variables that factor into whether or not we get the job, it would be unfortunate if something as avoidable as a profile picture or questionable post from a few years back interfered with getting the job. I think that as college students we’re just beginning to enter into our careers and as you said, it’s time to clean-up our profiles.

  10. Kate Miller says:

    This post was so helpful. I know I often clean out my social media, which frustrates people looking for photos of us but if it doesn’t represent me well to a future employer it needs to be removed. I think first impressions are super important, and even though it doesn’t seem fair for employers to look at your social media, that is the world we live in. It is hard to find the balance of having personal accounts and understanding that your employers can see what you are posting, but I agree as students entering the workforce we need to be aware of our presence.

  11. Kate Miller says:

    This post was so helpful. I know I often clean out my social media, which frustrates people looking for photos of us but if it doesn’t represent me well to a future employer it needs to be removed. It doesn’t seem fair for employers to look at your social media, that is the world we live in, and first impressions matter. It is hard to find the balance of having personal accounts and understanding that your employers can see what you are posting, but I agree as students entering the workforce we need to be aware of our presence.

  12. Sean Thornberry says:

    I love this post! Companies now are going to do their homework because they want to know as much about a new hire as possible, social media has made that so much easier for them. It’s incredible to me when I look at some of my friends social media postings, or even some industry professionals commenting on LinkedIn. They’re terrible! Punctuation mistakes, sexist remarks, swearing etc… For the most part LinkedIn has been used professionally by the majority, but considering more than 50% of companies at the moment are checking Facebook and Twitter accounts only goes to show that what you post is so important to your future career. I remember a couple of years ago clearly house on social media. I removed a lot of naive and immature posts, pictures that wouldn’t have looked admirable to an employer, and then I went on Twitter and started to engage with the communities that I was most interested in working for in the future. Protecting yourself and using social media wisely will pay off big time in the end.

  13. Talia Smith says:

    This is one of the more helpful posts I have read on the blog. My favorite tip is #2. I have a pretty clean social media presence to begin with but it never occurred to me that potential employers are looking at my friends and followers on social media. I now realize how obvious that is and how who you follow and who follows you back is a window into your life and who you are. Please excuse me while I do some spring cleaning on my social media friends and followers.

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