How social media can affect your job search

Teens should monitor their social media presence before applying for jobs.

When you are searching for a job or applying for scholarships, there are several important skills you can work on including your résumé, your interviewing confidence and even your networking abilities.  One thing, however, that is often overlooked is your social media presence.  Michigan State University Extension recommends paying attention to your behavior and postings online, even looking at your email address. 

In this day and age, it is common for employers to Google candidates for an open position in addition to reviewing their résumé.  This will bring up any mentions of your name online.  It is a good idea to try this yourself to see what information is available.  This information can range from references in a local newspaper, organizations you are involved with, pictures, tweets or other social media postings.  Depending on your settings, potential employers may be able to see both things you have posted online, as well as comments about you posted by friends. 

What you post online matters, as it may be available for viewing for years to come.  It is important to think about what you talk about as well as how you talk. Your behavior online can impact what people think about you and their impressions of how you would behave as an employee.  Think about how you talk about your current employer, too!  It is very easy for networks to overlap online, and there may come a day when someone in a hiring position is able to see this or access it through a friend’s network. 

Lastly, it is beneficial to look at the email address you will use for communication with prospective employers.  A professional-looking email address containing your name is most appropriate.  If you set up an email address back in your “I love polka-dotted ponies” stage, or when you thought “Mondays are for sleeping late,” you may want to set up a new one.  There are several free email options available online. 

Thinking about your online presence and social media behavior before you are looking for a job can be very helpful when it comes time for the actual job search!  Michigan 4-H has many resources available to help with career preparation, from writing résumés to preparing for interviews as well as thinking about how to maintain or advance in a chosen career.  See the Career Preparation webpage for more information.

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