Orchestrating your social media image

Illustration by Scott Colson

Illustration by Scott Colson

You applied for a great job, but still have not heard back from the hiring manager. Your cover letter was great and the resume you worked on for weeks was impeccable.

Did you forget to delete that Instagram video from Thursday night? Yes, the one with you guzzling down a bottle of alcohol while throwing up the infamous Captain Morgan leg pose? The same video linked to your Facebook, which is also linked to your Twitter account?

It seems as though people are having a hard time understanding that whatever is placed on their social media websites is also available to millions of eyes around the world. Regardless if you place your profiles on private, all it takes is one “screenshot.” Someone you follow may screenshot your photo and then easily send it to who they want or post it where they want. Every friend that person has on their page that you don’t have on yours can see your picture now too.

We are all connected. Even when we think we are not, we are. Friends, family, employers, friends of friends and friends of friends of friends…the information we place online can be easily obtained by others.

Employers are beginning to take advantage of social media websites to determine if they should or should not hire particular employees or interns.

Many seem to ignore the fact that they are building their own reputations through what they place online. It is up to each individual to make the best of what they are putting out there for the world to see. One should take advantage of their social media websites by building their personal image or brand.

Research yourself

“Google it!” It’s a phrase used when we don’t seem to have the answers we’re looking for. Many tend to forget that they can Google themselves.

What search results pop up when you search your first and last name together? What pictures are in the image results? Googling yourself is important because you get to see what information is available to employers who may search your name through a search engine.

According to CareerBuilder.com, a nationwide survey “conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder from February 11 to March 6, 2013, and included more than 2,100 hiring managers and human resource professionals, found that nearly two in five companies (39 percent) use social networking sites to research job candidates, up from 37 percent last year (2012).”

Make sure to be aware of what information is available online and to remove any “digital dirt” that you wouldn’t want a potential employer to encounter. For the best results, try searching from a public computer to ensure you’re getting the correct results.

A great way to manage what information is out there in relation to your name is to set up a “Google alert” for your name.


Think twice

Does the world really need to see that picture?

Do your friends need to know the biggest issues going on in your relationship?

In his book, “For Single People Who Still Understand the Value of a Relationship,” Rob Hill Sr. says, “Find healthy ways to communicate with one another, other than silent cries for attention on social networks.”

“A relationship is not a public playground,” Hill outlines in his book. There is a time and place for certain things and it is important to think twice about what is being shared with the rest of the world.

I get it. We love to tweet and share our newest opportunities and biggest accomplishments. We feel good when it happens but more importantly we love to share it with friends through our social media websites.

Let’s take it back to March 2009 when UC Berkely student Connor Riley landed a job with Cisco.

“Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work,” is what Riley tweeted.

Well turns out Riley never got the chance to cash in on a “fatty paycheck,” because a Cisco employee happened to pass her tweet along to one of the hiring managers. No job for Riley.

According to careerbuilder.com, “research suggests that hiring managers are using social media to get a glimpse at the candidate’s behavior and personality outside of the interview, and are most interested in professional presentation and how the candidate would fit with the company culture.”

“I don’t like it, since they will tend to judge prospective employees based on their personal lives rather than their professional lives. But still, people put up their stuff on what is essentially public, so it’s legally fair game,” Palomar student Patrick Lim said.

We need to be smart about what is out there and can’t allow our online presence to ruin our chances at landing a great job! Sometimes it helps to pretend that you are being “followed” by certain employers. It helps because you are able to question yourself and question if what you post is appropriate for these types of employers.

According to Career Builder’s 2013 study, the top three mentions of inappropriate behavior employers seemed to find and actually remove candidates from getting jobs with them were candidate postings of provocative and/or inappropriate photos and info, candidates drinking or using drugs and candidates bad mouthing a previous employer.

Clean it up

The information that we have out on the Internet is available 24/7. One thing about social media is it is constantly being updated itself. Privacy settings are also something that is often changing and we tend to forget to check our settings regularly. Make sure that your privacy settings are set up the correct way.

Leave the negative thoughts and pictures that may be controversial off of the Internet, keep it personal. It is the best way to avoid any issues later down the line.

“The first and foremost piece of advice I would give is don’t write anything down and distribute it unless you want the world to see it. Everything we are doing online, we are crafting that. We are creating our personality online. Be strategical and tactical with your information,” Google Media Outreach Leader Nicholas Whitaker said.

Put yourself out there in a positive way. Lisa Vaughn-Olstad, creative and digital marketing lead agent for Aquent, says the best thing to do is to make yourself memorable. Show the world what makes you different and unique.

Make sure that what you have online is updated and that the social media websites you are using are a positive reflection of you.

Take advantage of your social media website by putting yourself out there in the best way. The greatest thing about sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, are that they are free. Why not be your own publicist and build your image?

“You are basically putting your name out there and saying you approve this message. Anyone who were to come to your social media pages, they would say, this is what the person is about, this is the quality of the person that they are. I think that if you start doing it from that perspective, everything else kind of falls into place,” Whitaker said.

Author: Lottiesha Blandon

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  1. Moral of the story, better represent your social media profile as your virtual resume with a pinch of your personal life. As nobody wants to spoil the undiscovered opportunity for itself and admit it, nobody want to end up like Riley, in the end of the day.

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  2. Social media technology is truly a double-edged sword. You get to share yourself with the world – but what you share is up for individual interpretation. Even innocent fun can be taken out of context and misinterpreted – particularly by someone who may hold the strings to your livelihood. Share your accomplishments with the world, but keep your entertainment experiences within the confines of your trusted inner circle – a big lesson I have learned after many years in digital marketing.

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