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I do a fair amount of informational interviews.  These conversations with recent or soon-to-be college graduates are a great way for them to meet with potential employers without the pressure of a job interview.   There are some common questions that are always asked – What is a typical day look like? Why did you choose agency vs. in-house? What’s one of my favorite projects?    I answer those questions and offer additional insights into the job market and what, as an employer, I’m looking for in a good candidate.

We talk about culture fit, job skills and of course, what their online presence says about them.

In a couple weeks, I’m going to be talking with soon-to-be high school graduates that attend the religious school program at my Temple.  And among the many questions these 12th graders want answers to is what will their online presence say about them.

This generation only knows life with social media.  Age of first use differs depending on what study you look at, but let’s just assume that most kids will have some sort of social media presence by the time they’re in 8th grade.  And for most, if they have socially active parents, they have already been exposed to social media – think about how many baby pictures you see within hours of a child’s birth.

So these kids are smart to start thinking about what their online presence looks like – not only to employers, but college recruiters as well.

An employer looking at social media wants to learn a little bit about the prospect.  For instance, will they be a good fit with the company’s corporate culture or are there any discrepancies between what you told an employer in an interview and what is on your LinkedIn profile.

Employers have also that said that references about using illegal drugs or consuming alcohol, posts of a sexual nature, use of profanity, bad spelling or grammar can negatively impact your career prospects.

But even before these kids will start applying for career positions, they’ll be trying to get into college. A recent study found that more than two-thirds of colleges (68 percent) say that it’s “fair game” for them to visit applicants’ social media profiles like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to help them decide who gets in.  In a companion study, students agree with 70 percent saying that social media profiles are “fair game” for admissions officers evaluating applicants.

The Grandma Rule

Here’s the truth in my view – social media makes it very easy to share everything about our lives – our pictures, family happenings, highs and lows, good news and bad news, and everything in between.  But use some common sense.  I call it the Grandma Rule.  If you wouldn’t want your grandma to know about it, then don’t post it on social media.

Social media gives us a peak into your personal life and yes, you’re allowed to have a personal life.  But not everything needs to be memorialized on Facebook or Instagram.

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio

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