If you are looking for an internship, co-op work, a summer job, or your first career position post-graduation, we need to talk — about your social media presence.

Many employers review job candidates' social media presence. According to research by LinkedIn and Microsoft

  • 70 percent of employers have rejected a job candidate because of information found about the person online.
  • 79 percent of U.S. recruitment professionals use online info to evaluate candidates most or all of the time.
  • 85 percent of employers say positive online reputation influences hiring decisions.

Cody Smith, program coordinator for Virginia Tech Career and Professional Services, said while it’s illegal to make hiring decisions based on appearance, potential employers will develop impressions of a job candidate’s internship or career readiness based on what a social media search uncovers — and these impressions will factor into hiring decisions.

Remember that standards of professional conduct apply to all aspects of the job search, including documents submitted, all communications and interactions with employers, and a candidate’s online presence – meaning social media.

The bottom line is that you’ll want to make sure you are conveying a professional, civil identity, ideally one that showcases you as hardworking, trustworthy, responsible, and ready to work.

The plus side to social media activity

There is no need to purge all social media in a job-seeking panic. In fact, that could backfire.

Some employers will not contact a person for an interview if they cannot find them online because it gives the impression that person has something to hide.

Also, deleting a profile doesn’t guarantee the data is completely gone.

But we can still live our authentic and interactive life online and create a positive image of ourselves that will resonate with real life and online friends as well as employers.

Some tips from Smith:

  • Consider reviewing your privacy settings and setting your more casual feeds to private.
  • Skip your last name for your handles and use your first and middle names instead. That way, any employer skimming social media for your first and last names will not easily find your feeds, but your friends will still know where to find you.
  • Use common sense. Avoid anything confidential, violent, profane, explicit, or illegal.
  • Remember that it’s not just about what you post, but also who and what you follow, like, and comment on.
  • Never complain about employers or colleagues – current or former – on social media.
  • Conduct an incognito Google search on yourself every few months and make sure your online persona is portraying you as you want to be viewed.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Career and Professional Development. Appointments can be made on Handshake or by calling 540-231-6241. Advising appointments are available in person, by Zoom, and by phone any time between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. whenever the university is in session.

Career and Professional Development is in the Smith Career Center on the Blacksburg campus.

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