As a recent college graduate, I noticed that I lot of my friends have gone “off the grid.” In light of their recent job / grad school applications, they’ve made serious changes to their online presences. Many have taken small steps like making their Twitter and Instagram accounts private, while others have gone further and changed their names (the classic *substitute my last name with my middle name* on Facebook) or deleted their social media profiles altogether… At least temporarily that is. However, I found myself doing just the opposite.
Look – I get it. The tagged pictures of you binge drinking on Facebook from freshman year of college aren’t something any potential employer wants to see. However, assuming that potential employers don’t want to see anything but a “professional” view of you online is simply incorrect. Yes, being professional is important, but so is being personable. It’s important to establish yourself as a “real person” rather than just a seemingly fake, overly perfected profile online. Likewise, if an employer can’t find you on social media at all in this day and age, it usually means one of two things: you’re hiding something, or you’re living under a rock. Newsflash: regardless of the truth, they’re going to assume you’re hiding something.
So why look shady? Be present online. That’s my motto (even if i am a bit biased due to my genuine interest in social media). Unfortunately, a lot of my peers are thinking the opposite. Why should I be present online? In their minds, being invisible puts them ahead of all of the potential people making poor decisions online… You know, like the ones re-commenting on those binge drinking pictures from freshman year of college so they resurface to the top of the news feed. To an extent, I’m sure it does give them a slight upper hand – but I know my friends, and I know that a lot of what they have online they shouldn’t be ashamed of, or feel like they need to hide.
Being present online has its benefits. For starters, it shows you’re “real.” The things you share, the photos you’re tagged in – they all have meaning. Each post gives your friends and followers a bit more insight as to who you are as an individual. These personalized aspects to your profiles online can do just that for potential employers as well. When managed correctly, what you post on social media may actually help your chances of getting hired. Simply clicking “private” limits the ability to showcase what might be some of your most desirable characteristics.
Yes, privacy is important online, but if you have nothing to hide, why make it seem like you do? There are ways around the issue at hand. For example, my Facebook profile has privacy settings applied for my own safety, but whenever I write or share a relevant blog article, I make sure I share it publicly. This way, the content I want others to see can be seen, while more private aspects of my life are kept out of the reach of strangers. I have my Instagram and professional Twitter public, while my personal Twitter is private. However, my personal Twitter handle is in my professional Twitter bio. Chances are if I know you in real life, I’ll let you follow me on that account, too.
All in all, I’m simply asking you to think deeper about the new trend of “hiding” on social media. Reconsider sharing certain aspects of your “personal” social media with the world instead of playing it overly safe and disappearing. Who knows? It could start a conversation, increase your likability, and even connect you with potential employers/employees. I guarantee you that’s a hell of a lot more promising than just being “private.”