Up your social media smarts

Are you using social media wisely? Learn from an expert why your posts may have a bigger impact than you realize.


Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Tumblr — there are so many ways we share our lives online. Most college students have multiple social media accounts across several platforms, creating a massive online footprint for themselves.

While sharing pictures and updates is fun in the moment, do you ever consider how your social media posts could affect your future career goals? Or what about the results of a quick web search of your name? An important part of using social media and web platforms wisely is keeping your profiles appropriate, especially as you begin to make post-graduation plans. This means watching your language, not sharing lewd articles, and making sure your photos are appropriate. (Think: would you want your grandma to see that photo? If not, don’t post).

Consider your entire digital presence 

Last year, a survey by human capital solutions firm CareerBuilder found that 60% of employers check out candidates’ social media profiles as part of the recruiting process. Back in 2006, when CareerBuilder first started the survey, only 11% did so; by 2008 the number had doubled to 22% and has continued on the upward trend since then.

Ashley Turner, a campus recruiter based out of Charlotte, North Carolina, says she consults social media for about two thirds of the candidates she looks at. She searches for prospective employees on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google.

This can be done at any point throughout the recruiting process. “I can pull it up during a phone interview, or later in the process if we’re trying to decide to give an offer. Sometimes, if we’re on the fence about someone, I’ll do an online search on him or her,” she says.

Turner explains that doing a social media search can hurt candidates who aren’t keeping their profiles “clean and professional.” CareerBuilder’s 2016 survey found that 49% of employers have found information on social media that caused them not to hire a candidate, something that Turner has experienced firsthand. She says a few questionable photos do not automatically disqualify a candidate from the job; rather, it’s all about the broader perception that social media gives about the individual.

Turner shared one example about a candidate who had already been hired, and was weeks away from starting work. A web search turned up negative press on his professionalism at a previous internship. In this case, it wasn’t just social media, but an article beyond those platforms that caused the company to feel uncomfortable with his employment, and Turner had to rescind his offer.

60% of employers check out candidates’ social media profiles as part of the recruiting process.

— CareerBuilder

Make your social media profile work for you

The good news is that your social media profiles can also work in your favor when it comes to job searching. Turner says that many recruiters who conduct first round interviews over the phone really want to put a face to a name, so they appreciate seeing a picture of a candidate online.

Social media profiles can also help recruiters get a well-rounded view of candidates.

“We get an idea of who the person is, apart from their résumé,” says Turner. “It gives us a look at some of the other things that candidates are involved in, their interests and activities outside of work.”

And not having an online presence at all can be a definite red flag. Turner explains: “Knowing that most Millennials have a digital footprint, I think it’s hard as recruiters to assume, ‘this person just isn’t on [social media].’ Likelihood is that they are, so not having anything kind of seems like they’re hiding something.”

Turner’s ultimate social media advice for college students? Before you post, “Ask yourself, ‘What type of impression am I going to give others?’ Showcase your best self, through appropriate, clean photos.”