Extreme social media makeover for college students

Apr 17, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. ET

With spring finally at the doorstep, it couldn’t be a better time for college students to do some social media spring cleaning, especially those scrambling for a last-minute internship or job before graduation.

College student on Facebook

Contributed by Christie Garton, UChic.com

Right now college students everywhere are working hard on their job applications to give future employers a sense of who they are and why they should be hired for that coveted spot. But it's the content and imagery many students convey on social media that increasingly affects job prospects and other opportunities — and not in a good way. And that’s even before getting the chance to make a good first in-person impression.

Indeed, a recent CareerBuilder study found that two in five companies use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, and other platforms to check out a candidate prior to offering them a job. And according to a recent WSJ.com article on the subject, “recruiters are much more likely to forgive a typo than, say, trashing an employer on Facebook.”

To pass these make-or-break social-media background checks with flying colors, here are five ways to quickly get your social media image into shape:


Get rid of those drunken pictures

It doesn't mean you have to delete them forever — you can download them onto your laptop, but you don't want these visible on your profiles. Those pictures from the fraternity mixer freshman year aren't going to be as amusing to a job recruiter.


Update, update, update!

Have you created a LinkedIn profile yet? Do it today! More and more companies are turning to LinkedIn as their primary recruitment tool. Across all platforms, do a social media spring cleaning and update your profiles with your latest information. It's no longer acceptable to just have an account — you've also got to update it. Keep your updates as grammatically correct as possible. It shows that you pay close attention to details (which is important when you're representing a company full-time) and care how you're perceived.


Watch who you follow and/or like

If the only type of accounts you follow have to do with "Party Girl Problems" or "Brat Problems," it's time to do a cleanse. Make sure your account activity reflects how you want to be seen.


Get a professional picture taken

You don't have to pay a bunch of money for this and could even ask a friend who's got a good camera to take a snapshot of you. It's important to have this because you can add it as your profile picture for your accounts instead of some overly cropped photo that was obviously taken at a party with a Solo cup in hand.


Friend a relative

Nothing keeps you more in check about what you're posting than knowing that it could be seen by your mother or 9-year-old cousin. If you would feel uncomfortable with a relative seeing what you're posting, it's probably not a good idea to post. Doing this helps keep you in check!

About the author:

Christie Garton is the founder and CEO of UChic.com, the No. 1 online resource and networking community for high school and college-aged women. With its "100 Percent Behind You Commitment,” the company gives 100 percent of its profits to the Open Door Foundation, which supports young women in their academic and career pursuits. Like the UChic.com Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @UniversityChic. Christie is a graduate of the University of Kansas and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

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