By Katie O’Dell, Opinion Editor
Facebook has changed the world. There is unlimited access to loads of information, and we are constantly exposed to the public. It has become a staple in the social life of the majority of students and is a portal for potential employers to seek out personal information about an applicant.
Chantel Crockett, a professor in the School of Communication, teaches an internship preparation class. She is quick to point out that a Facebook profile can certainly impact an employer’s opinion.
Take for instance the emotionally charged statement you made last week when you were outraged. Think it doesn’t affect the way you are viewed as a person, and more importantly, as a professional? Think again. Chances are a potential employer could make a snap judgment about your work ethic based on random late night Facebook rants. This is a problem that is completely new for our generation. How can a person still be active in social media and keep a professional presence on the Internet?
“The best advice for students looking for employment is to keep their profiles private and to make sure that their profile photo projects a professional image,” Crockett says. “Keep in mind that if you allow people in certain networks to access your information, then a potential employer could gain more access if they are part of that network – even if your profile isn’t available to the public.”
“If you apply for a position and the only other information a potential employer has access to, other than your resume, is your Facebook profile, they are going to form an opinion of you from the information that is available to them.”
A good way to fight back includes keeping an Internet presence that is dedicated to your professional profile. LinkedIn is a great tool for anyone who is in need of a professional network and wants the opportunity to use social media as a job portfolio. Also consider keeping a blog. This can be listed on your resume and direct employers to an Internet source that doesn’t have tagged photos of your most embarrassing moments.
There are some aspects of Facebook that are even harder to control. Beyond your own profile, your network can present a bad image that reflects on you as well. Judgments could be made about your own character based on the company you keep. If you hang out with less than stellar people, an assumption could be made regarding your own lifestyle.
On the flip side, social media can be a useful tool in job seeking. Of those advantages, the one that is most prevalent is the opportunity to expand your contacts.
“Facebook can be used for networking,” Crockett says. The key to finding that impossible dream job can be networking. You have to know people, why not know as many as you can via cyber friendships?
“If you decide to use Facebook for networking, evaluate the information that you are making available and decide how you are going to use your profile and how you want to present yourself,” says Crockett.
Best practice includes keeping your profile private, keeping language clean and remembering that although you want to express yourself freely, you are creating your image and branding yourself with your presence online. Make sure the message you send is the one you want received.