Social Media: Your First Impression

Updated: Feb 25, 2019

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Social media is full of everyday dangers. One slightly racist or sexist comment could destroy a career. One picture posted in poor judgement could get you fired. Scholarships have been revoked and admission canceled to colleges because of one comment posted in the heat of the moment. Innocent pictures containing geotags that you post of your kids at school or at the park can be an alert to a child predator. Apps on your kids’ phones could be exposing them to cyberbullying, sexting, pornography, and a whole group of other evils you would not want them exposed to. Yes, social media is dangerous, and it is important that we respect its power and adapt to standard online safety guidelines.

But, social media is also a beautiful world of opportunities that we never had before. It is our first impression. Apps like ZeeMee allow high school students to add their own flair to a college application. A Linkedin profile properly set up can serve as an online resume. According to our research, about 90% of job recruiters use social media as a screening tool. About 69% of those have rejected a candidate because of something on their social media. But about the same percentage have hired a candidate because of their social media. Your social media can indeed be a threat, but you have the opportunity to make it work for you.

What do employers want to see on a social media page?

1. Do you fit with the culture of the company? About 51% of job recruiters look at your social media profile to figure out who you really are. It’s a lot harder to lie about yourself on Facebook than on a screening questionnaire. So, do yourself a favor, and display your successes, but be real. Do not make yourself look totally fake on social media but have some common sense about what you post.

2. Did you lie on your resume? Employers want to know that you can do what you said you could do. So, be honest. If you did not graduate college, do not say you did on your resume. If you claim to be good at communicating, your social media should show that. If you claim to get along well with others, your social media should not show you to be argumentative and hostile.

3. Are you sensible and creative? Let’s start with sensible. Did you get drunk at a bar and then display those photos on social media? Probably not very sensible. Did you decide to rant about how terrible your job was? Many people do, but that does not display common sense. Now for creativity. Are you a robot, or can you be original? Is what you display online your “I want to look like everyone else” side or your “I am unique and original, limited edition” side. Employers want to see the latter.

Now what do employers not want to see?

1. This first one should be pretty obvious, and if it isn’t there may some bigger issues at hand. About 83% of these employers said the biggest turnoff was anything suggesting illegal drug use. Yeah, like I said, it should be pretty obvious.

2. Sexually charged posts are the next big no-no. About 71% of employers agree.

3. Profanity turns off 65% of them. It has been said that the use of profanity is a sign of a weak mind. Employers agree.

4. Here’s one that I can appreciate. Bad spelling and grammar turns off 61% of potential employers. While this is funny in and of itself, consider further that bad grammar and spelling ranked higher than mentions of guns or alcohol (51% and 47% respectively). It turns out that every English teacher ever was actually right.

So, the trick with social media is to use common sense. Display who you are in a way that flatters you rather than a way that makes you look like you have no common sense. Double check your posts for good spelling and grammar. Choose not to post that photo of you and a bunch of friends at a bar on Friday night. Keep your language clean and free of innuendo. Put your best foot forward. Your social media is your window display for all the world to see.

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