For many students, going on Facebook or Twitter is simply a good way to procrastinate. But in reality social media is much more powerful than that, and can help you to make – or break – your future career.
Here’s our handy guide to the dos and don’ts of student social media:
• Showcase yourself
Update your online profiles so you can be found for the right reasons. Your profiles also allow you to indicate where your interests lie – “like” pages relevant to your intended career path, tweet interesting blog posts and join groups on LinkedIn. Creative types can join communities onBehance, programmers can contribute to Stack Overflow and budding writers or journalists can blog.
• Connect with the right people
Have those influential industry contacts already lined up for when you graduate. Find people within the industry you want to join and ask them questions, add comments and share their work on your social media platforms. You should also connect with your lecturers and tutors – ask them to recommend you on LinkedIn. This could be just the proof you need to show potential employers that you have the skills, drive and knowledge they want.
• Get on top of your privacy settings
Get savvy with your security settings. How do you look to the outside world? Go to your Facebook profile, select “Activity Log” in the top-right corner, then beneath your cover photo click “View as”. Happy? Remember, employers check candidate’s social media profiles when considering who to employ.
• Join your university’s online networks
Be in the know when it comes to university news, seminars, and events and you can make the most of your connection with some of the biggest institutions in the world. Connecting on Facebook and Twitter before university begins is also a great way to start contacting your peers. In particular, joining your hall’s group or checking out society and team pages will increase your confidence before making the big move.
• Build an online presence
Imagine you are one of two job candidates with identical degrees and experience – yet you can also point to your 500 industry followers on Twitter, and the 100 blog posts you have written about the subject. Who would you choose?
• Leave your Facebook logged in
You might have the most opaque privacy settings in the world, but it won’t do much good if you leave your account logged on – whether at a public computer, or the laptop in your student room left unattended while you pop out to make a tea. Students are notorious for “hilarious” status frapes – just log off.
• Share compromising pictures
Any pictures of activities of questionable legality or nudity are a definite no – of course, better advice is not to partake in the first place. As a certain young Prince has shown, everyone has a camera-ready smartphone these days.
• Blur the boundaries between social and professional
We’ve all seen messages in the past that were definitely not intended to be Facebook statuses or tweets – the sort that make you wince and hope their authors aren’t online friends with their professors (or parents, for that matter).
• Use the same really obvious password for everything
If one network is hacked you are in big trouble. Not only is this a good tip for your social media reputation, it’s just good practice with bank accounts or other important data.
• Drink and post
This is invariably and without exception a terrible idea – and the clean-up takes a lot longer when you can’t remember what you posted in the first place.