Sunday, March 3, 2013

Don't hide your online self when applying for college or career

According to a study by Internet security company AVG, two thirds of HR managers will browse social media profiles of candidates. When it comes to college about 24% of admission officers admit to tracking applicants on various social media sites to check an applicant’s digital footprint, according to a 2011 Kaplan Test Prep survey. Those that snooped typically found something that hindered the applicant’s chances of acceptance, including photos of alcohol and drug abuse, vulgarity, and evidence of a plagiarized admission’s essay.

In response to this, it is common to hear students applying for college or a job say before doing so, they plan to take down their online profiles or change their name to something unidentifiable. Innovative educators know this is not the best strategy. Instead our job is to support young people in creating a responsible digital footprint that, rather than hinder, would attract colleges and employers. Knowing how to do that is the job of educator’s today.

Here are some do’s and don’ts that will help students not only clean up their online presence, but actually update it to represent the “me” they want the world to see.  

ImagesHave terrific pictures of yourself tagged where you are engaged in activities that would impress an employer or college.Don’t have pictures online that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see
Like and followLike pages, articles, etc. that would impress a future college or employer. For example a great cause or a topic about which you are passionate.

On LinkedIn, you can follow companies that are the kind of places you would be interested in  working.
Don’t like the page of something inappropriate i.e. Girls gone wild.
Posts/ UpdatesShow yourself in your best light. Share your accomplishments and successes.  Every time you make a status update think, “What would an admissions office or human resources department think of this?” Don’t write posts or updates that contain communication that you wouldn’t want recruiters to see.  It is okay to write something fun, but not something that makes you look bad.
Personal informationWhen using social media sites, it’s best to assume most of what you share is available to the world. However, if you want to engage in conversations that might be less-than-popular, make sure you do so in a closed, private group and be aware that even then, it can be shared.
Don’t post anything in an online space that you don’t want others to see unless it is in a specifically closed space. For example conversations on Facebook, Twitter, or blogs can be seen.  The exception is if you are communicating in a closed group or with a blog that has privacy settings, but remember...anyone in that group can copy, paste, and share with the world.
MonitorWatch who replies to your status updates, posts, etc. to ensure it is appropriate. If it is not remove the comment and private message the individual. Don’t allow others to write anything inappropriate. It is a poor reflection on you.
TrackStart tracking your educational, volunteer, and professional experiences early. Consider making a LinkedIn profile or Tumblr blog that helps you keep track of all the cool experiences that you’re proud of from hobbies to school achievements. Don’t discount experiences that may seem unrelated to your future career. You’d be surprised at the skills and qualities that college and job recruiters are looking for.

Examples of students with positive digital footprints
Here are examples of students who have positive digital footprints in social media that have lead to their academic and/or career success.  Take a look with the list in mind and consider what they do and don’t do that might lead to success.

Listen to this student’s advice for insight from someone who has thought through his online presence.

Click this link to view video.

So, what do you think? Have you talked to your students about their online profiles? Have you taken a look at them? If so, what do’s can you help them do better and what don’ts can you help them avoid? Are there ideas or inspiration from the student examples or student video?  What are a couple things you can do right now to help your students improve their online image and start their journey toward a successful future?
Teachers: Here is a lesson from Common Sense Media to address this topic with your students. 

1 comment:

  1. Excellent point coupled with valuable guidance -- thank you!

    Would like to have seen a bit about time frames... for example, should a high school junior be concerned about things they put up online in 7th or 8th grade? What are the guidelines for FB, Twitter, or most blogs? If I was a teen looking for a job this summer, I might have little concerns about a "shady past" (i.e. 2 or 3 years ago, haha!).