Taking social media seriously

Courtesy photo Genna Kasun, right, Director of Social Media and Content Coordination at Juniata College, leads a group session in communicating responses to crises on social media during a training event at Juniata College held last fall.

When it comes to your social media presence, do you know what it reveals about you?

“Your social profile is a representation of who you are online. People share a lot about their social lives, family, hobbies, passions and causes. Job seekers need to think about what kind of picture their media channels are painting about themselves as potential employees and colleagues,” Jay Ruggery said. Ruggery, co-owner of an Altoona job recruitment/placement service, Spherion Staffing, adds, “Your online commentary says a lot about you. Ask yourself, ‘Is this something I want a potential employer to know?’ If you want to be viewed as a person who is professional, responsible and right for the job, don’t post pictures or videos that portray just the opposite.”

When it comes to “best practices” and social media, Kristy Magee, career development director at Mount Aloysius College, Cresson, reminds students “don’t put anything on Facebook you wouldn’t say.” Awareness of social media practices is important, especially for those searching for a career opportunity regardless of where they are on their career path.

“If you are one of 100 candidates for a position and your Facebook posts have you ranting about being unable to find a job, that’s a quick turnoff for potential employers. Be mindful of what you post. You need to think and act with professionalism,” Magee said. “We emphasize that students think before they post.”

Ruggery also recommends job-seekers re-evaluate their privacy settings and who they have “friended.”

“Are there people on there who are interacting with you in a way that could damage your job prospects? You don’t have to “unfriend” them, but you might want to inform them of your professional pursuits so they are not unknowingly working against you.”

At Juniata College in Huntingdon, Genna Kasun, Director of Social Media and Content Coordination, supervises its social media strategy and networks.

She coaches students on “finding their voice” on social media, including Twitter; how to create a LinkedIn profile. Students also learn how to upload class projects, resumes, networking and earning a job interview.

“LinkedIn is a great networking tool where students can connect and engage with groups that align with their interests,” Kasun said.

Magee agrees that LinkedIn is a valuable networking tool provided it is done with professionalism, including their profile photograph.

“We recommend students use LinkedIn and even offer an opportunity for them to have their profile photo taken by a professional photographer. You want to make a professional, good impression,” she said.

Magee recommends knowing what information about you is on the internet by performing a Google name search and setting up an alert for your name so you are more aware of when your mentioned in posts or been tagged in photos.

Find something negative? Delete posts and pictures but understand it’s impossible to totally eliminate it from appearing.

In addition to social media, other technological advances such as email and Skype have reshaped the application, career and workplace landscape, said the experts.

For example, Kasun said most job applications are completed online, and many employers perform an initial interview via Skype or phone.

From an employer’s point of view, Ruggery said his firm uses a variety of tools to fit the right person to the right job, including background checks, professional assessments and personal interviews.

“However, we frequently screen with social media as well to get a better picture of candidates, their experience and potential for a certain job and employer … Candidates need to think strategically about all of the social channels where they participate. If used correctly and strategically, social media can be a very effective job search asset.”

While much negativity surrounds social media and technology use, Kasun said she doesn’t feel it is all bad.

“It’s all about using it appropriately and using it to engage with other people. I tell students social media isn’t a place where you change minds. It’s a place to understand another person’s perspective, engage with them respectfully and contribute to a meaningful conversation.”

Staff writer Patt Keith can be reached at 949-7030.