Even in the digital age, there’s something warm and fuzzy about throwing it back to the good old days and keeping it old school when using social media. Maybe this seems ironic, but it makes a lot of sense; whether you’re searching for jobs, networking professionally, or connecting with friends, it helps to apply the same communication skills you use when interacting face to face to your online communication via social media. Recruiters and talent acquisition leaders—your future bosses—are looking for employees who exhibit great communication skills. If you can apply the following five tips to your use of social media, you’ll definitely improve your odds of landing internships and entry-level jobs.
This Tuesday Tip video, featuring Bethany Wallace, Content Manager for College Recruiter, offers five suggestions for college students and recent grads for using social media old school style.
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1. If you can’t show Grandma, don’t show anybody.
When using social media platforms, particularly platforms which are image-heavy like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, avoid posting photos (or posting comments or status updates) containing images or words you wouldn’t show or share with your grandma. If your grandma is a hipster, this rule doesn’t apply to you. Think about the stereotypical grandma who might be offended at the notion of seeing her grandson’s photos of a wild party. That’s the grandma we’re referencing here.
If that mild-mannered, conservative grandma wouldn’t want to see it or read about it, chances are your potential employers don’t want to see it or read about it either. So don’t share it on social media. Remember that just because you think you have your privacy settings locked down doesn’t mean they’re truly secure. Your friends can always tag you in photos. Facebook is publicly traded. And your friends and contacts can also take screen shots of what you post before you realize you need to delete the scandalous content. So play it safe and follow the grandma rule, particularly prior to and during your job search.
2. No phones allowed.
If you’re a traditional college student, your parents can probably tell you lots of stories about what it was like to attend parties and other college functions sans cell phones. Most wild college functions were never documented; the only records that exist of the crazy things that happened at sorority houses in the 80s and 90s live in the memories of the people who attended.
Take notes from the old folks on this one. The benefit to turning off your cell phones at the door of functions with your friends is that you won’t wind up posting any scandalous photos on social media, only to regret those posts later. It might seem fun to share the photos now, but when you begin searching for a job or internship, and employers Google you and find said photos, you’ll wish you’d followed the “no phones allowed” rule once in a while. You might want to suggest to your friends that they follow suit and turn off their phones, too. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find that you have more fun when you aren’t worried about taking selfies or being caught doing something silly.
When sharing, posting, liking, or communicating in any way with your contacts on social media, remember that you’re creating a brand for yourself. As The Police so aptly put it, “I’ll be watching you.” Your contacts—particularly recruiters and potential employers—are watching you. People often pay more attention to your online activity than what you might think. Be sure that you mindfully interact online and treat others with courtesy and kindness. Portray the image of yourself you want others to see. Brand yourself intentionally because if you don’t, you’re still creating a brand; it will just be a personal brand you’ve created haphazardly.
When you interact through social media, commenting thoughtfully on photos and status updates also lets your contacts know that you care about their content. This helps build genuine relationships. This is another way to apply old school communication principles to your online interactions.
4. Request a meeting with professional contacts.
After you’ve interacted with a professional contact online for a while, don’t be afraid to make the suggestion that you meet face to face, to ask for your contact’s phone number, or to request a Skype visit. Taking the next step toward more personal face-to-face interaction is always preferable because it gives you the opportunity to get to know your contact better. Professionals—whether employers or mentors—understand that you are networking in order to gain understanding about your career field and to seek job opportunities. Make your intentions clear when requesting a visit. If you are attempting to learn more about the career field, tell your contact that. If you want to learn about the company your contact works for, state that when you request to meet for coffee.
Most people are open to this type of request if they have time in their schedules. Even if they can’t meet face to face, they can often visit over the phone or online. Moving from social media, like Facebook messaging or direct messaging on Twitter, to a phone call, is a positive step toward building a lasting professional relationship.
5. “As offline, so online.”
This tip comes straight from marketing guru Samantha Hartley, owner of Enlightened Marketing. In the world of social media and electronic communication, people tend to interact more abruptly and to leave their manners at the door. This is a major faux pas if you want to maintain healthy professional relationships with your friends, professional contacts, and coworkers (and land jobs in the future).
Remember that when interacting on social media and through email, it’s just as important to treat people with courtesy, respect, and kindness as it is offline (face to face). As offline, so online.