This post is part of the Graduate Assistant Blog Series featuring advice and perspectives from graduate students working in Career Services:
Undergraduates cannot underestimate the power of the Google Search button on their job hunt. For years, high school students have been encouraged to modify, hide, and clean their social media accounts before applying to college and undergraduates need to apply the same principles when applying for their first internships and jobs. This is especially critical for students applying for client-facing industries (e.g., finance, consulting) where companies need to feel confident putting you in front of clients and whose clients might also look you up online.
These quick tips will help you not just clean up your digital presence but also professionalize your online profile to stand out in a positive way:
Your LinkedIn Page
- Profile Picture: If you don’t have a professional headshot to use, have a friend take a picture of you – using portrait mode if possible – from the shoulders up in front of a simple background. In applying for jobs early in your career, professionalism and likeability are critical so make sure your picture reflects those. When uploading to LinkedIn, your face should fill about 60% of the bubble.
- Experience Section: Make sure all of your past internships and campus jobs are visible on your page. Some students may choose to write blurbs about each position on their LinkedIn profiles (similar to a resume) – just make sure that you are consistent in how much information you write and that you don’t overwhelm the webpage with information. Additionally, feel free to clean out old positions that aren’t relevant to your current job hunt (e.g., babysitting in high school).
- Education Section: Make sure this is updated with your major(s) and class year listed. Feel free to also list campus clubs, leadership positions, scholarships, awards, etc.
- Interests: Feel free to “follow” certain companies, influencers, and groups if they are relevant to your job hunt.
- Above and Beyond:
- On your LinkedIn profile, click “Edit public profile & URL” to create a custom URL.
- Edit the banner picture on your profile for a more personalized page feeling.
- Consider consistently sharing posts about industries and topics that you’re interested in.
Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, etc. Profiles
- Go Private: First and foremost, make sure that all of your accounts are set to private. Even if you believe that your content is appropriate for a workplace, a recruiter may think differently or become concerned with comments that others put on your content. This step alone, however, is not enough as many corporations have methods to look at social media profiles that are private.
- Remove Questionable Content: When in doubt, take down the picture, video, or post. While inside jokes with friends may be completely harmless, make sure that nothing you post could be potentially misconstrued. To that end, double check any inside jokes you may have posted about.
- Focus on Positivity: Beyond unprofessional, provocative, discriminatory, vulgar, or mean content, do an audit to remove complaints or negativity so that you your digital presence is positive.
- Google Yourself: It might feel silly but Googling yourself can be incredibly helpful in finding loose threads in your online presence. Putting yourself into the mindset of a recruiter, go through everything on the first three pages and work to remove anything that could come across as unprofessional – this could mean deleting old comments, untagging yourself in pictures, or asking people to take content down.
- Email Signature: Make sure you have a professional email signature that contains your full name, phone number, email address, and school information.