Others, like BU senior Stephanie Madison, 21, have simply abandoned old habits that could jeopardize job prospects. As a freshman, Madison, who hopes to land a job in sports operations, tweeted plenty of stuff she is not proud of today.
“It was a lot of dumb things, commenting on literally anything I was doing,” she says. “And I cursed a lot,” which she no longer does on Twitter.
To help its students put their best faces forward, Boston College’s career center conducts workshops on online profile-building. At campus jobs fairs, it sets up photo booths where students can have their portraits taken, shots suitable for posting on professional networking sites.
“The more positive stuff you input, the more it pushes the negative down,” says Louis Gaglini, the center’s associate director of employer relations.
Northeastern University’s career services office offers weekly workshops in both basic and advanced LinkedIn site-building, accommodating 20 students per session. Students are also counseled to change their Facebook privacy and security settings, to ensure that more personal material is hard to access.
Even for universities helping students navigate the job search and social media landscapes, though, staying on top of technology can be challenging.
“The next generation may not be using Facebook so much” as other options become available, says NU career services director Maria Stein.
Over at BU, social media active professors like Van Hoosear and Stephen Quigley are laying down basic rules for students to follow.
One is, don’t lie about your resume or references. Also, avoid taking sole credit for a team’s accomplishments, especially when job prospecting in a field like public relations, where firms value collaborators over ego-driven “me first”-ers. Third, don’t come across as “too vanilla” if you’re aiming for a creative field like advertising. There’s a difference, they say, between looking wild and crazy on Facebook and looking so bland that no personality-driven firm will want to hire you.
BU senior Ben Heyman, a public relations major soon to be job hunting, has taken such advice to heart. “I used to share some pretty stupid stuff, like what I had for lunch,” admits Heyman, 21, who’s gone back and deleted some postings he was uncomfortable with. “Now I tweet more about stuff I’m interested in and others might be, like articles, blogposts, and company brands.”
Joseph P. Kahn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.