Now that I’m a college upperclassmen, I’m seeing my life ahead of me more clearly. At this point, I realize just how fast these 4 years will go by—and that I will have to grow up and start adulting for real soon. This means I need to do some things sooner rather than later, with one big one being cleaning up my social media accounts.
As an avid tweeter, I know the damage social media can do to one’s life. I saw a movie theater employee lose her job over Twitter in real time. She complained about the job and made some seriously distasteful comments. It went viral, and after people continuously tagged her employer, they promptly let her go.
We’ve all seen tons of other examples of this. But this can impact college students like you and me too, even if we don’t have careers yet. Social media affects your job prospects—in both good and bad ways—so it’s important to keep it clean. Here’s how.
Delete Old Accounts
First, assess which social media accounts you don’t use and consider deactivating or deleting them altogether. This will ensure that no one will be able to view these pages anymore. That way, in the event that you have something you may not want a potential employer to see, you can easily just remove it—almost as if none of it ever existed.
I deactivated my original Facebook account a number of years simply because I didn’t use it. I was going to reactivate it when I came to college because it’s where a lot of university-specific stuff information gets posted. Instead, I decided to just make a completely new account because it was simpler than trying to clean up stuff from when I was a middle school (lol).
Clean Up Old Posts
This brings me to my next step: the actual “clean up.” I know we all grow up, and as we become more mature with time, our ideals can change as well. Still, first impressions are long lasting. If a potential employer sees something on social media without knowing you first, they might judge you from the impression they have thanks to some outdated or inappropriate posts.
So, go back through the accounts you want to continue using and identify things that may not be suitable for an employer to see. Not sure if something qualifies? Delete it. Better safe than sorry. After all, we’ve all also seen various celebrities get their pasts thrown in their faces , being crucified for comments they made when they were younger.
Make sure to get rid of inappropriate photos, comments, statuses, or anything that shows lewd behavior. I'm not saying to censor yourself completely—we all have freedom of speech, after all—but just make certain that nothing is offensive.
Make Pages Private
Lastly, the best tip I have is to make your pages private. A lot of people leave their pages public, which is totally fine in theory. Just remember that public means “open to everyone.” If you make your pages private, you don't have to worry as much about cleaning it up—though you should still, as you never know if a “friend” might share or screenshot your posts.
Usually, human resources departments will do the social media sweep for your public profiles. In fact, in many states, laws permit employers to look at your social media ONLY if it is public. They cannot make you provide login information so they can access your account, nor can they make you show them your personal social media pages. (For lots of jobs, that’d be a pretty big red flag anyway if they asked you to do that!).
With all this in mind, I now see how much a bad social media reputation can damage a person's career. So, do yourself a favor and take some precautionary steps to keep yours clean!
Want to learn more about how your web presence affects your career prospects? Check out this video.