To learn more about building a better profile, check out Career Services' social media resources at: http://careerservices.colorado.edu/students/socialMedia.aspx.
A s our lives become more and more shifted toward the internet, employers have started reviewing the online presence of job applicants more and more often. Optimizing your online self is more important than ever, from cleaning up your Facebook to building a hefty network of connections on LinkedIn.
To get started, go through your public profiles and put your posts to the test. "Many students have been comfortable with the intimate details of their lives on display since birth," says Lisa Severy, director of Career Services at CU. "So they may not have considered the ramifications of their spring break pictures or other posts that may seem unprofessional."
Start cleaning up now
Severy recommends using a "grandma test" to clean up your profile. "If you don't want her to see it, you probably don't want an employer to, either."
Severy warns cleaning up your profile can take quite a bit of time, so students should get started before they start applying for jobs: "People often think about their own pages, but not pages they may be tagged to on other people's profiles."
Ally Stewart, a senior psychology and education major at CU, decided to change up her Facebook page in the fall, before she starts student teaching this semester. "It's not that I have anything to hide, because I have always been Facebook friends with bosses, coworkers, and family members," Stewart said. "I really just wanted to keep my private life private. Only people that I consciously decide to friend should be able to see the details of my day-to-day life."
Since Stewart's posts already passed the "grandma test," there wasn't much she needed to do to scrub her Facebook clean, but she decided to take an extra step. "I changed the name on my profile to my first and middle names," she said.
Make friends, make it good
Optimizing your persona isn't just about eliminating the bad stuff; making it good is important, too. Career Services encourages students to strengthen their LinkedIn profiles in addition to keeping Facebook clean and private. "We advise students to carefully craft their Linkedin profiles to provide an online alternative to the social media sites they use for personal stuff," said Severy.
"In addition to providing more information than a resume, it also shows an employer how well connected you are." Severy said some companies even limit who they will hire based on how many connections they have. "One of our panelists told a group of students that she won't consider someone for a sales position unless they have 200 or more Linkedin contacts."
You shouldn't just go adding people willy-nilly, though. LinkedIn frowns upon sending connection requests to people you don't know. If you're using LinkedIn to start a connection, make sure you let the person know that's why you're adding them. Most people bristle at the standard "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn" message if they don't know the person sending the request -- especially the more well-connected people.
Severy sums up the ultimate goal of online optimization pretty well: "In my mind, the job search hasn't changed all that much. The network is still your best asset, just the tools have changed. Those who know how to use those tools effectively and in a positive way will be more successful."
So get to scrubbing and start building that network, Buffs. You never know who may be checking out the pics from your trip to Vail over break.