Social Media Do’s & Don’ts for Professional Success

picture of mobile phone screen with social media icons

Written by Susan Helmick, Graduate Assistant for the Graduate College

Crafting a professional online presence is crucial for graduate students, regardless of their post-graduation plans. Admissions committees and potential employers increasingly utilize social media to assess candidates beyond resumes, seeking insights into professionalism, personality, and cultural fit. An unprofessional online presence can significantly hinder your career and academic prospects, including jeopardizing your current job. Inappropriate content like offensive language, controversial opinions, or questionable behavior can raise red flags. Therefore, curating a positive online persona is not just beneficial; it's essential for safeguarding your aspirations. Here's how to leverage social media for success:

DO Craft a Professional Profile: Treat your social media profiles as an extension of your resume. Use a professional headshot (get one taken at the Bearcat Promise Career Studio photo booth!)  and a bio highlighting achievements, interests, and career goals. Your profile is a powerful tool to showcase your values, strengths, and aspirations and distinguish yourself in a competitive academic or professional landscape. Use keywords relevant to your field to optimize profile searchability and showcase your talents.

DON’T Overlook Privacy: Be mindful of privacy settings and what information you make public. Avoid sharing sensitive or controversial content that could harm your reputation. Consider the values and stances of institutions or companies you apply to when posting online. Familiarize yourself with their mission statements and public positions to ensure your online presence aligns with their expectations.

DO Showcase Your Work: Use platforms like LinkedIn to share research, publications, presentations, and other accomplishments. Leverage features like the "Projects" section to highlight your work. Consider multimedia content such as slideshows or videos to enhance your portfolio's impact. 

DON’T Neglect Your Online Presence: Regularly update profiles with new achievements and insights to keep your audience engaged. This establishes you as a thought leader and increases visibility among peers and potential employers. Aim for consistency by establishing a regular posting schedule.

DO Network Thoughtfully: Actively engage with professionals, alumni, and peers by participating in discussions, sharing relevant articles, and personalizing connection requests. Follow industry leaders, organizations, and publications to stay informed about trends, developments, and job opportunities. Engage with content by sharing, liking, and commenting on posts that resonate with you. Demonstrating passion and commitment to continuous learning through active participation enhances your credibility.

DON’T Engage in Negative Behavior: Avoid engaging in negative or unprofessional behavior online, such as trolling, cyberbullying, or excessive self-promotion that could damage relationships with peers, colleagues, and potential employers. Remember, online actions have real-world consequences.

By following these tips, you can harness the power of social media to elevate your professional presence, expand your network, and accelerate your career.  Invest the time and effort to cultivate a strong online persona – it's a valuable asset in today's competitive landscape.