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The Long Tail of Past Misdeeds

Today we have a slightly different take on marketing. We’re posting about self-marketing. Specifically, social media and how it can help or hurt you college students when you’re marketing yourself for a job.

Followers of The Lobster Shift know we’re firm believers in the value of social media. But there can be a dark side to it.

For example, we’ve all heard about how a bad social media post or tweet can hurt a college applicant or job seeker. Now comes proof of the disconnect between young job seekers and job recruiters, courtesy of Persona, Inc., a social media utility.

According to a recent Persona survey, 57 percent of college students don’t think their Facebookpostings include inappropriate content. However, according to a Persona press release nearly 70 percent of recruiters in a previous survey said that they’d bypassed candidates based on negative online information.

That seems like a pretty big disconnect over what exactly “inappropriate content” is.

Students seem aware of the fact that recruiters look at their profiles. But they feel overconfident that their current Facebook profiles don’t mar the image they’re trying to present to potential employers, the survey seems to suggest.

Worse, they’re not being proactive in presenting a professional Facebook page.

Persona cites three ways young job seekers might be letting their reputations precede them.

-More than half of college students never or rarely delete or un-tag questionable images or posts.

-Four out of five college students would still be comfortable or very comfortable if a recruiter looked at their Facebook pages—despite the high number of recruiters who have rejected candidates after browsing their Facebook profiles.

-Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed by Persona say they try to hide content, rather than activity monitor for inappropriate stuff. The danger is that a friend might post an inappropriate comment or picture from last Saturday’s party on a job candidate’s wall, turning off an interested recruiter.

Lee Sherman, Persona CEO, has some tips for college job seekers regarding social media.

First, use social media like Facebook or Twitter to showcase your personality. Post those things that will present you in a positive light.

Second, social media is like a dinosaur with a long tail. The long tail is stuff posted a long time ago. Go back and scrub your posts. Delete content back to the early years that would present you unfavorably.

Third, use Facebook’s networking capabilities to help land interviews by reaching out to a whole network of friends. If you’re lucky enough to land an interview use the channel to find an existing connection in the company.

College students on the job prowl, which should be all of you, have to be aware, according to Persona’s Sherman,  of the potential dangers of Facebook, where one drunk photo, one salacious smile, can tank a budding professional reputation.  

So when you start building that professional reputation, remember: in a terrible economy it’s hard enough to find a job without dragging the long tail of your college days behind you.