Career Planning

What You Need to Know About Your Student’s Web Reputation

Today it’s a fact of life,  as children grow up so must their Facebook profiles. It’s an inevitable milestone that did not exist a generation ago. For better or worse, Facebook has become the new front porch: friends see it, family see it; and yes, future employers see it too.

Today it’s important to encourage your student to maintain a positive web reputation on Facebook and other social media. According to a 2012 survey commissioned by CareerBuilder, an online employment website, 37 percent of hiring managers use social networking sites to screen applicants. Among these, 65 percent use Facebook as a primary site for research.

This is significant news for college students as they head into the workforce. As a parent, it’s wise to offer advice reminding your student of the specific characteristics of what a positive Facebook presence and web reputation is (even if students think they already know).

If you’re wondering what those specifics are, employers in the survey listed six tips of what not to post on Facebook (items are listed from most damaging to least).

1.     Provocative or inappropriate photos

2.     References to drugs and alcohol (think college parties)

3.     Poor communication (yes, spelling and grammar count even on Facebook)

4.     Bad-mouthing a previous employer

5.     Discriminatory comments on race, religion, and gender

6.     Evidence the candidate lied about his or her qualifications

A recent article in Forbes points out it’s not a career friendly option anymore to just opt out of Facebook – despite your student’s right to do so. To employers scanning Facebook pages, no social media presence for a 20-something applicant is a red flag. It can indicate either poor communication skills or an attempt to conceal damaging information.

What Does this Mean for College Students?

A challenging aspect of growing up is learning how to express yourself to peers, to family, to professors and to employers. In life and in social media, the goal is to create a consistent personal brand across all channels.

As many parents already know through experience, this means the side burns should be trimmed, shorts turn to slacks, and modest dress overrules the extravagant. Right or wrong, employers may evaluate your student on these expressions of self.

College students need to consider this when posting anything online. While people can forgive and forget, Google does not. 

However, there are many ways college students can use social media in a positive way. Employers who were surveyed, reported that social media isn’t used just to eliminate candidates, it also leads them to candidates. The top attributes of a strong profile listed were the following (ordered from most influencing factor to least)

1.     A positive picture of a candidate’s personality

2.     Professionalism

3.     A profile that  supported job qualifications

4.     Well-rounded interests

5.     Effective communication skills

6.     Creativity in posts

7.     Authentic references through commentary

Other tips

For those students who may have written less than appropriate posts, there are a few ways to social media redemption. One easy way, is to visit Reppler, a free profile scanning tool for social media. Reppler will scan a user’s profile on networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and identify posts that may be inappropriate so the user can delete these posts later. It will also show all of the photos a user’s name has been attached with.

Continuous monitoring is another way to make sure a web reputation stays positive. Even if your student isn’t the one posting negative content, it’s important she monitor what friends are posting on her profile – for example, what photos and posts she’s been tagged in and what has been posted on her timeline.

If there are too many posts to deal with – or too many friends posting conflicting content – it may be necessary for your student to “go nuclear” and delete his profile so a professional one can be created. Socially, this may be easier for him than “unfriending” close friends or dealing with potentially awkward conversations about their commentary. 

Did you enjoy reading this article? Sign up for UniversityParent’s weekly eNewsletter for additional tips and advice to help your college student succeed. You can also add to the discussion and get feedback from fellow college parents by joining our College Parents’ Facebook group.

Recent Articles

Get our newsletter

Email Submitted

Weekly Tips to Help Your Student Succeed