Well there’s no accounting for taste, but there most certainly is a need to have a taste for a good online filter. Whether you’re applying to an undergraduate or graduate program or changing careers, job hunting or the like, the culturally accepted practice of keeping one’s personal and professional life separate has never been more important than in our digital age where information about you is essentially seamless.
As you explore universities, post-graduate opportunities including fellowships, potential employers, and assorted organizations, you’ll be faced with the choice to connect through social media. First, let’s talk about Facebook “Fan” pages. Many organizations – including potential employers as well as colleges and universities will invite you to “like” their page. There is essentially nothing to be gained by becoming a “Fan”, and you invite yourself to public scrutiny from admissions and scholarship representatives and organizational hiring recruiters. Unless you have your Facebook privacy settings locked down, once you hit the “fan” page, you’ve established a connection that allows others to see your posts and to view pictures you may unknowingly be tagged in which without explanation can cast a dark shadow on your integrity. We all make mistakes, but you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Aside from doing your best to keep your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts positively spotless, think about settings that limit others from viewing information about your personal life.
Another accepted life practice is not to burn your bridges behind you. Are you consistently missing out on interview invites? If you smell smoke, it’s probably a burning bridge and a recent feature on LinkedIn may be the reason your former colleagues have less than flattering comments or remain silent when asked to recommend you. You cannot control what others say about you, but you can make sure you don’t end job and employer relationships on a sour note. Recruiters are using a LinkedIn feature allowing them to make connections well beyond those you selected and noted on your resume as a recommendation.
Missed opportunities are just that and you may never know why you didn’t receive an acceptance letter to the college or job of your choice. What you do control is your own behavior and the safeguards for sharing of information.