After months of torturous course loads, project submissions, tests and research projects, spring break is a time college students most look forward to. It’s that time of the year when you get to take a well-deserved break from otherwise dreary schedules and really live it up. There’s no harm in having a little (or a lot of fun), but in the age of social media, as a college student who has his/her whole life ahead of you, it’s vital to be careful when on spring break. Here’s why:
Spring break is a temporary phase in your life, a small blip when you have most of your life ahead of you. Once you return from the break, you have to go back to keeping up good grades, getting a great job at the dream company, or applying to top league universities for those specialized degrees. In the present digital age, when information about everyone and everything is accessible via the internet, and online reputation matters more and more with each passing day, even the most inadvertent slip-up can be very harmful to your professional future.
Companies and universities all over the world are tuning into the power of social media to learn more about their candidates and find people better suited to their culture. They can look up your social media profiles to get a better understanding of your personality, before deciding whether to consider interviewing you or, worst case scenario, use it against you after interviews to ding you as a candidate.
As a result, social reputation management is gaining greater importance in the professional world. So, before you head out on your spring break, keep the following in mind and try not to make these mistakes on social media:
‘Checking in’ to (in)famous places
Spring break is a time to enjoy to the maximum possible extent – but your party-hopping updates need not be shared with the whole wide world. Even if you are having the best time of your life, the entire world, including complete strangers don’t need to learn about your wild partying days.
Sharing or getting tagged in crazy photos from that wild party
As a youngster, you know it’s easy to let your inhibitions go when you’re in a crowd that’s equally carefree. And that’s the perfect time for those embarrassing photos to get clicked.
No matter how much of fun you’re having with your friends, just like the Check In feature, photos that depict you as a wild partygoer are something that can make or break someone’s first impression about you – when they look you up on social networks.
Adding everyone you meet at spring break parties
The guy at the coffee place, the DJ at that late night party, or students from other colleges – spring break’s a great time to socialize and meet new people from all walks of life. It’s one thing to meet them briefly, a whole other thing to hunt them down on social media and send them friend requests.
You may be the kind of person who has fun occasionally, but having the wrong type of crowd on your friend list can also pull down your online reputation drastically.
Posting comments with inappropriate language
No matter how plastered you get at the spring break parties, your social media pages need not be filled with expletives. Using offensive language may be considered cool, but unlike in conversation, things shared on social media are more permanent and visible to everyone who knows you, and sometimes, even those who don’t.
Cleaning up your social profiles
Whether it’s on your return from that legendary spring break, or even before heading out, it’s essential to clean up your social profiles and create a more likeable impression on your future employers. Here are some tips to help you do that:
- Scan your social media profiles for potential reputation-damaging content using an app such as Rep’nUp, which helps job seekers clean up Facebook and manage their social media reputation.
- Scour through your social profiles to look for any highly offensive posts you may have shared. These include photos that you have shared, photos that others have shared and tagged you on, and status updates and comments you have posted. Inappropriate language, unprofessional dressing, etc. are some pointers to help you find the right kind of posts to clean up.
- Check your privacy settings to ensure that whatever information you share on social networks can only be accessed by your friend circle and people you know well. Keep information shared with the general public less personal to avoid people from forming the wrong impression about you when they look you up.
- Since a manual assessment of each of your social profiles can be extremely time consuming and may not be as comprehensive, you can leverage automated reputation management tools to help you with this. These tools use specialized algorithms to filter out offensive content in a quick manner, which you can then choose to delete or restrict access to.