The dichotomy of social media… it can be great, yet it can also be terrible.
When I think back to my days as an undergrad, I’m grateful that I didn’t have to worry about the widespread usage of social media. It was in its infancy at that time, mainly accessed via computers and not mobile. So, it wasn’t as easy to snap a shot while doing something dumb with my buddies, and then quickly posting it for the world to see.
Obviously, things are different today.
As a technology student or a young professional early on in your tech career, you must be conscious of your online activity—especially social media.
I know you’ve heard this a million times before, but you can never be reminded enough. What you do on social media has the power to either boost your career or ruin your career.
This isn’t all doom and gloom though. The good news about this is that you have the power to control this.
When a business receives your application, they’ll often head straight over to social media to do some research. In fact, many businesses leverage automation and artificial intelligence to do this step automatically.
The question is… what will they think about you when they come across your social media profiles?
Let’s look at a few things to keep in mind when it comes to using social media.
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5 Things To Think About With Social Media
#1: If You’re Relying On Deleting, It’s Already Too Late
Bots and spiders are constantly going through data on the internet (including social media posts) to capture as much information as possible.
Although these bots and spiders are often running on sites and services where it’s against the terms and conditions to do so, this doesn’t stop them.
Once you post something on social media, chances are that it will be picked up by a bot within a very short period of time and archived. Even if you go back and want to delete your post, that doesn’t mean that it’s truly gone.
You must live by the rule that… once you post something on the internet (privately or publicly) it’s out there FOREVER.
Even though this may be the case, it’s still a good idea to go through your social media accounts and clean them up.
Get rid of any content that you wouldn’t want your future employer to see. This means, going back to the beginning of your accounts.
Sure, this may not truly delete the content, but it will at least make it much harder to find.
#2: Your Appearance On Social Media Matters
How you appear on social media is just as important as how you appear in-person. If you use vulgar language, post inappropriate pictures, post inappropriate memes, and so on, how is this going to look to your future employer?
You have to decide what’s appropriate for your particular situation.
I’m not here trying to silence you from taking stances on controversial topics. I simply believe you should want to think twice before posting anything that could be perceived negatively.
Because, by thinking twice, you’ll be sure that your post will represent how you want others to view you.
You may think that it’s not fair for an employer to not hire you because of something you post, yet it happens.
You should want to think about the flip side of this as well.
If social media can harm your appearance, it can certainly help your appearance too. Think of ways to use social media to your advantage.
Instead of only thinking about the things you don’t want future employers (and others) to think about you, brainstorm ideas on how you DO want people to see you.
It’s powerful stuff when used correctly.
I’ll admit, I’m not a social media guru, and I don’t spend near enough time on social media doing this. Yet, the people who succeed on social media always have a purpose behind every post.
There is no randomness to what they’re doing and posting. Your posts shouldn't be random either.
#3: Beware Of The People Around You Too
It’s not only about what you post on social media, you also have to beware of people around you posting.
Are your friends taking pictures and posting them on social? If so, then you need to be aware of this, and either tell them to not post them or you need to find new friends.
You should want to be in control of how you are portrayed on social media.
You’re not being followed by the paparazzi (yet), so you absolutely can control your online image.
#4: The Social Platforms “Own” Your Data
Although this may change as data laws become more stringent, you steal need to treat anything you post online as though you are handing the data over to the company.
You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you. When you post or otherwise share User Content on or through our Services, you understand that your User Content and any associated information (such as your [username], location or profile photo) will be visible to the public.
That’s pretty scary, right?
Not only does FaceApp say they own your data, they say they can do whatever they want with your likeness.
Just be careful and understand what you’re agreeing to when using the various social platforms and apps.
#5: Are Private Accounts Really Private?
Don’t hide behind a “private” account thinking that you can get away with posting inappropriate content. Data from “private” accounts will eventually surface.
As I said above, treat everything you post online as though it will be made available publicly. This goes for everything you do in “private” as well.
Do you remember the Facebook account breach back in 2018?
That opened up access to all content within users accounts. This included “private” messages between users too!
The Bottom Line
With all of this said, make sure you fully understand how your social media posts may impact your professional career and public image.
I’m not suggesting that you stop posting on social media. Quite the opposite actually.
It’s a great thing to have control over your reputation and future career.
So, leverage social media for your own positive gain.
Ryan has been heavily involved in the world of Information Technology and entrepreneurship since the early 2000s. From small business consulting to Fortune 500 IT leadership, Ryan has a wide array of tech industry knowledge. Ryan has his BBA and MBA from the University of Iowa. Connect with Ryan on Twitter or Instagram.