Social media platforms can be fun ways to interact and connect, but some posts can lead to backlash in a professional setting.
According to a 2015 Pew Research Center study, more than 90 percent of young adults use some form of social media. Because of this, many employers look at applicants’ social profiles when making hiring decisions to get an idea of the users’ personalities.
“We all know how public our lives can be if we use social media,” South Dakota State Social Media Coordinator Karissa Kuhle said. “Anything you post is going to have a shelf life, so you want to make sure that you leave a positive digital footprint on social media.”
Posts with explicit language, controversial opinions, poor grammar or references to illegal substances can cause employers to turn away potential employees. The same goes with photos, especially pictures showing alcohol consumption, regardless of the applicant’s age.
Career Development Coach Matthew Tollefson previously worked for the Boys and Girls Club, which required him to check the social media accounts of job candidates.
“One person we interviewed was a great applicant, but his profile picture showed him chugging a beer. That told our team a lot about his character, so we needed to take him out of consideration,” Tollefson said.
SDSU running back Isaac Wallace, senior biology and pre-professional major, said the football team takes the topic of social media seriously.
“There was a kid on the football team that had a Twitter handle that was viewed as offensive, so he was quickly forced to change it,” Wallace said. “We make sure to present ourselves in a way that sheds a positive light on our team and our school.
Wallace uses his social media to post about his family and important accomplishments and avoids posting about controversial topics.
Tollefson said students should keep everything on social media as private as possible by reviewing privacy settings and requesting approval of tagged public photos.
Kuhle said it is important to look into your social media past.
“It’s not necessary to have ancient photos on your account, so make sure to set up a timeline review in order to delete embarrassing pictures and posts from your page,” Kuhle said.
Facebook photos and posts can also be set to “Only Me,” which allows the posts to stay on the profile, but only viewable by the account owner.
Tollefson said students should post about their own interests without getting too personal.
“Posting travel pictures, asking friends for help, making political statements without ranting about them and connecting with professional resources are all great ways to use social media,” Tollefson said.