This post isn’t designed to be exhaustive, so I’ll leave out a lot of things the majority might know already – such as how to control your privacy settings online and refraining from saying something that might damage your reputation. Instead, I’ll give you guys some useful ways to expand your network on social media and change the way you use some of the social networks you’re on already.
An updated LinkedIn profile (if you have an account, but don’t use it): If you have a LinkedIn account already, use this as a reminder to log in and update your profile. If your profile is publicly visible, it may look unprofessional to potential employers who think you’re still working at X when actually, you stopped working there 6 months ago but just forgot to update that. Try not to use LinkedIn as a static source that you only update when you need it – keep it developing. Although it might seem like a CV that’s hidden away in your personal documents, it’s a CV that’s visible in real-time to a lot of people, so keeping it updated is crucial.
Using Twitter as a ‘laid back LinkedIn’: I’ll start by directing advice to people who already have a Twitter account but may only be using it for personal purposes. If you’re one of these people, have a read of some of the things you post and whether you’d want a potential employee or a lecturer at University to be reading it. If the thought makes you cringe, make your Twitter account private. That way, you can continue to be as personal as you want with the knowledge that only your followers will be seeing those posts. Speaking of followers, once your Twitter account is private, look through at the sorts of people who follow you and whether you actually want them to have access to your tweets. You may not have realised who might have followed you whilst your account was public.
In terms of those of you who might not see the point of Twitter, as well as those who have an account for personal use, maybe think about creating an account for professional purposes with a slight personal touch. I know some people who have both a private and professional public Twitter account (which is a good idea if you want the best of both worlds) and I also know people who just stick to having one professional one. You can follow any academics whose research you’re interested in, your lecturers and higher education institutions. Sometimes, those academics will follow you back and you can develop a connection with them without the overly professional feel of LinkedIn. It’s a good way to have informal discussions and follow some of the research they’re doing and comment on it. Your feed will be completely personal to your professional interests and you’ll probably come across opportunities to get involved with as well – which is always good! Your Twitter bio can highlight your degree, academic interests or anything you feel is relevant professionally. You can even drop in something interesting/quirky about yourself – since after all, it’s a much more laid-back platform than LinkedIn.
Google yourself: Since a lot of us have already Googled ourselves before, perhaps Google yourself with a key word after it. So, put your name with something like ‘Twitter’, ‘Facebook’ or ‘University of Aberdeen’ to see whether anything you’ve posted is actually captured and easily accessible by anyone. You can even try key words from websites you might’ve used years ago as a teen to see whether there’s anything embarrassing you might want to get rid of. If so, this is relatively easy to do by finding a customer service email address. They will generally ask you for personal information if you don’t remember the email address and/or password you might’ve used to make the account years ago. Once it’s removed, Google will generally remove the search result in a couple of weeks.
If you want more in-depth information on online professionalism, Gabi Lipan and Dr Emily Nordmann, based in the School of Psychology, created a comprehensive guide for students on how to use social media to become more employable which you can find here under ‘Online Professionalism and Employability Guide’.