Social media should be viewed with an eye for employability

Social media usage by students affects their chances of finding a job after graduation

Social media is hardly a stranger to the 21st century. Over the years, its scope has grown dramatically not only in number, with a 78 percent increase from 2005 to 2015, but also in purpose, with uses including professional networking, public image construction and even teaching in the classroom. 

With the way technology has revolutionized online activity, it is no surprise that social media has the propensity to be a double-edged sword when it comes to interacting with various — and often conflicting — areas of life.

Students should be especially conscientious of what they post online to avoid harming their chances of employment, taking the ASU guidelines on social media usage fully into account.

Brian Turner, a faculty associate at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, described the nature of social media usage by students.

“Students tend to use social media as consumers,” Turner said. “They tend to take things in. They can follow people and they can share things extremely easily, and that nature of being a consumer sometimes makes people unaware of some of the consequences of some of their actions on social media.”

ASU’s social media policy encourages students to think twice before posting anything, taking into consideration their own state of mind as well as the effects of what they post.

“Social media can be used by students to build a personal brand,” Turner said. “A lot of times, whenever you’re out applying for careers as a student, you’re going to be doing that online. But your potential employer is not just going to be looking at your resume and cover letter, they’re going to be doing a search on you, and seeing what kind of activities you have online.”

The way students use social media can make or break getting a job, staying in Greek life and even staying enrolled in college. This can be exemplified in instances such as when Harvard admitted students' acceptances were rescinded after sharing offensive memes through a private Facebook chat, and when a University of Alabama student was expelled after using a racial epithet on social media.

Students should also make sure that their posts do not depict any illegal activities, as that can also hurt their chances of employment. 

However, avoiding social media altogether might not be the answer, especially in an age when social media use is ubiquitous.

“There’s going to be a lot of students who simply don’t use social media,” Turner said. “But when they come to that point in life when they’re trying to build their professional career and their potential employer looks to see what their personal brand is online, and they find nothing, that can be detrimental as well.”

Many students opt to make multiple accounts in order to separate their personal and professional lives. For example, the “finsta,” or “fake Instagram,” serves as a private account where individuals are free to share often deeply personal details of their lives with trusted friends. Students can also make multiple Twitter accounts or change their settings on Facebook to ensure their privacy.

At ASU, social media is important not only for students in degree programs such as journalism, but even for those who simply want to keep up to date with university organizations.

It is more important now than ever to be aware of what is being posted online. When using social media, students should be smart about the way they present themselves and take the necessary precautions to maintain the privacy of their personal lives.

“A student who properly uses social media has to be well educated in how social media works, how to use it and some of the positive and negative consequences of that use," Turner said. 


Reach the columnist at kalbal@asu.edu or follow @KarishmaAlbal on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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