The following is a guest post from Courtney Vaught, a Boston public relations professional and PRSA New Professionals Section member-at-large. You can read more about the PRSA New Professionals by checking out their blog.
If you’re like every other college student, you probably use Facebook to write funny comments on friends’ walls or to post pictures to keep memories alive. However, you have also probably noticed that these types of antics can hinder one of the most important goals of senior year in college — finding a job.
A blog post by Ari Adler, Faculty Advisor at MSU PRSSA, titled, “Facebook Users Show Two Faces to the World,” discussed how some Facebook users are creating separate profiles for their professional and personal lives. This makes you think about the challenges new professionals face in the expanding social media world — Facebook specifically. As Facebook’s 35-and-older demographic expands, we are seeing our parents, aunts, uncles, clients and employers join a world that used to exist only within college.
The new professional’s generation (i.e. Millennials or Gen Y) started using social media years ago in a very different environment for vastly different purposes. This is where many new professionals and soon-to-be college graduates find their struggle.
If you discuss this with some friends currently looking for a job, or already in the market, you’ll probably hear some horror stories. For instance, a former college student had an interview with a public relations agency scheduled, but was e-mailed a cancellation note a few days before the interview because of something to do with “social media content.”
While most may not have stories that drastic, many new professionals are still taking steps to protect their reputation and jobs, such as blocking pictures and allowing only selective photo albums to be viewed. Other options are de-cluttering the increasingly distracting applications on Facebook profiles to make it a little more professional.
Privacy techniques may protect you professionally, but it begs the question, is this defeating the purpose of social networking? Are you really showing who you are when you have to monitor the content? It’s a fine line that college students and graduates need to learn to successfully tread.
For PRSSA members, how do you use social media? Do you connect with professionals? What boundaries and lines would you recommend to those using social media and seeking a job?