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How to be professional on social media whilst at university

Social media is now well and truly part of our everyday lives. I am on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Instagram. Of course, I primarily use these to connect with friends and to share things about my day, but since I’ve been at University (studying for a Journalism and Media degree) I’ve thought often about how my social media presence might add to or take away from my chances of getting a graduate job.

Using social media is a great way to build professional relationships (especially Twitter and LinkedIn), but it’s also important to remember that posts made on Facebook and Instagram might be around forever – and could come back to haunt you!

Therefore, it’s important to understand your online presence and how it can impact the views that potential employers have of you each time you post. It’s a good idea to ask yourself how you want to come across on social media and what message you want to give off.

I keep my Facebook profile private, sharing personal information with family and friends. However, I choose to keep my Twitter profile open, and I try to use it to build my professional profile, re-tweeting things that are relevant to my chosen career path.

Here are my top tips for staying professional on social media:

  • Don’t comment about work online. Complaining about work, even if it’s a part time job, can look really unprofessional
  • Do use photos of yourself that you consider to be professional. Particularly on LinkedIn, and if you’re using Twitter in a more professional capacity. LinkedIn is a network that is predominantly used for business, and professionalism is key – using a social picture on LinkedIn is not the key to a smart profile!
  • Don’t post statuses/comments that you wouldn’t want sharing with potential employers. Don’t swear and definitely don’t be offensive! Avoid sharing overly politically charged statements. If you wouldn’t say something in the workplace, it’s probably best to avoid saying it online!
  • Do use correct grammar and spelling. Double check your statuses/Tweets for mistakes.
  • Do check the privacy of your Facebook profile. Be mindful especially when posting photos and though you might not be able to control what photos your friends tag you in, you can un-tag yourself from or delete any inappropriate photos that potential employers might see.  
  • …and do change your privacy settings from time-to-time. Occasionally, if I’m heading for an interview, I will double check that my Facebook is set to private and I might even put my Twitter profile to private. I’ll go over my Tweets to double-check that they’re all professional and delete any that aren’t and may put off potential employers.
  • Do get involved with LinkedIn. Having attended a LinkedIn workshop as part of the Cardiff Award, I couldn’t wait to get started and building my profile. LinkedIn is a great way to engage with potential employers and you can connect to those that you’ve met throughout work experience or through internships and this ensures that they’re kept updated with where you are professionally. Always send a personalised request on LinkedIn, adding a message reminding the person of where they met you.

How do you make sure that you look professional on social media? Do you have any tips for standing out for employers online?


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