A couple decades ago, if people wanted to know what was going on with friends they picked up the phone or mailed a letter. Today, in an age where anyone can access information instantly, both these options seem archaic. Even email is considered too slow. Texting, instant messaging and posting on social media rule.
Social media, with its mass reach, may seem like an ideal place to post the diary of your life, but it can also be a double-edge sword, particularly when it comes to interviews. Whether applying for college admissions or for a job, social media presents pros and cons that can make or break your chance of getting that coveted spot.
An increasing number of colleges and employers are taking to the internet to learn more about candidates beyond a resume and application. With advances in technology, finding information about “The Real You” is easier than ever thanks to social media. Interviewers want to know if a candidate will be responsible in their organization, and the reality is that what takes place in your social media personal life can color their perceptions of you. The news is filled with examples of candidates losing jobs or having their admissions revoked because of questionable social media postings.
Many people leave their privacy settings open, thereby allowing anyone to see their postings. Even if you do set your account to limit public access, social media companies often update their policies and features, and people sometimes find their settings have changed. On Twitter, all tweets are defaulted to allow public access. Though there’s an option to keep tweets private, doing so makes it hard to grow your followers which is one of the main appeals of this platform.
It’s always ideal to err on the side of caution when it comes to social media. A picture can really be worth a thousand words, and often whatever you post on the internet can never be taken back. What you say and do can help or haunt you for the rest of your academic and professional career.
Here are 15 tips on what to avoid when posting on social media:
- Excessive partying, especially if it involves underage drinking
- Drug paraphernalia and usage
- Naked or near-naked photos
- Racist comments
- Political views, especially if extreme
- Religious views, especially if controversial
- Sharing too much information about family
- Criticizing schools or jobs interviewed with
- Gossiping / bullying others
- Too much information on dating life
- Sexually explicit content
- False or untrue statements about other people or organizations
- Threats of violence to anyone or anything
Whether or not social media is good or bad, it is here to stay, and it can be a powerful tool to promote you if used correctly. Keep these social media tips in mind to increase your chances of converting your candidate status to acceptance.
Maria Wen Adcock, a former college admissions counselor at New York College of Health Professions, has many years of experience mentoring and recruiting students for the corporate world. She is also a former marketing executive at Time Warner, Condé Nast, Sara Lee Corporation and General Mills.