The New First ImPRession


NOTE FROM JEFF MOROSOFF:  Each semester, my public relations students in Hofstra University’s Honors College are required to contribute posts to my blog.  The following guest post was written by sophomore Nyala Stagger:

Nyala Stagger

Nyala Stagger

Personal public relations is the basis behind a lot of our daily actions and interactions. For the average college student, your publics are your classmates, your professors, faculty, and residential staff, among many others. How you present – or pitch – yourself to them becomes great practice for going into the workforce. However, the Internet has made the process of establishing a great first impression all the more frightening.

In this day and age, as many college students have been warned, social media profiles can be used as weapons against or for someone’s personal PR. Many times when we hear an unfamiliar name, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter are great resources to get an idea of who that person is. A decade or two ago, people had to wait until they physically met someone to learn the bare minimum about them. Now, we can learn about people’s whole lives with 20 minutes of good scouring and scrolling through a social media profile. I’ve heard frightening tales of students whose professors found their Facebook profiles and were more than displeased with what they encountered.

A trend that I’ve noticed among my peers is a censoring of social media profile content to control the kind of impression others get from them. By censorship, I don’t mean removing the typical college house party or bar night pictures, since those obviously don’t belong there, but students are now not posting personal thoughts and opinions that could be considered as “controversial” or deleting social media profiles all together to remain “under the radar.”

I think that by trying to stay under the radar, they do exactly that. By heavily censoring their profile, one can remain virtually unseen by potential employers and acquaintances by leaving their PERSONALITY out of their personal PR. What’s needed is a healthy balance between showcasing individuality, while still maintaining a level of professionalism.

What are your opinions? Do you agree with heavy profile censorship or do you like it more when a profile really showcases the person behind the “@” symbol?

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11 responses

  1. I can honestly say after I heard of someone looking up potential hires on Facebook, I changed my settings to friends only immediately. I am very old fashioned and I feel the best way for someone to get to know me is by personally knowing me. I do however feel employers like to have sense of who they are dealing beforehand. Some people may say I care too much but I truly believe no one thinks enough about their social foot print. Even if you aren’t the one taking the picture or recording the video there is also someone around to document you doing or saying something embarrassing. I think people should just be little more aware.

  2. Colin Sullivan | Reply

    This is a difficult and rapidly debated topic. To ensure they never work against you, “best practice” for a personal social media account would be to keep it professional. I agree with that and try to practice such.

    The question then becomes is there an online outlet where one can be completely open. Social medias have now connected people across the globe for the sharing of ideas and content. If we all start to “censor” our tone and opinions are we going to start missing out on the heated conversations that are often a catalyst for exposure on any given topic?

  3. Well written, Ms. Stagger! You’ve made a good observation on how many young career-seekers react to the realities of social media. Now that online accounts have become a virtual representation of people, the immediate reaction is often hitting the Delete button. Instead, young adults should embrace social media as a natural and mainstream opportunity to build their own brand. Show off your personality and wit with some clever tweets, build a graphics portfolio with a Facebook album, or create a blog highlighting your travels abroad. There’s no reason to shy away from social media when it can be used most effectively as a form self-promotion.

  4. Excellent job on this post, I could not agree more. Social Media is important for almost any field. It can help you get a job, but it can also take away a chance of one. Personally, when I started to get more into journalism, and was on-air, working bigger events, etc., I spent hours going back on my Twitter account and deleting hundreds of tweets from prior years. Anything that would show my allegiance to a sports franchise (as I try to get into sports broadcasting and currently work with one) was the first to leave my account. Like you said, “we can learn about people’s whole lives with 20 minutes of good scouring and scrolling through a social media profile.” That is why I look at my Twitter as being one of the professional things about me. However, with Facebook and Instagram, I changed privacy settings but I remain skeptical for what I post. I only consider very few of those “friends” my actual friend. It is so easy for a company now to see stuff. So it makes you think, how much should I use. What should I post? Because even with your “non-professional” accounts like how I look at Facebook and Instagram, a professional can still access them. You never know what they are going to think in less than 20 minutes…

  5. Catherine Benny | Reply

    I think that this blog is incredibly insightful and relevant to today’s generation of “social media babies”. Ideally, I think that a potential applicant for a job should make sure to keep their profiles and twitter accounts appropriate so that it does not seem offensive to anyone who views it. However, you have to make sure that you keep your personality in your posts and tweets otherwise your not really giving employers a reason to hire you. Lack of personality can make a person seem detached, disconnected from society, and even robotic. Showing your personality and your true self to a professional separates you from the average applicant if it is done in small doses such as with a Twitter account, Facebook account, or personal style choices. If done correctly it makes you stand out from the crowd. Your posts and pictures can represent the issues and causes you can best represent on a possible account and, how you respond to your friends and followers can represent how you interact with possible clients. Never underestimate the power of a post or tweet to make or break a job offer.

  6. Alexandria Alicea | Reply

    I want to first start out by saying i genuinely love this post and the incredible point you bring up; is there life behind your tweet? I will definitely say that i became aware of “censorship” of social media first through my parents and secondly through the recruitment process for a collegiate level. Thinking of the tweets I used to send in high school I can only imagine the amount of times my present would cringe reading through them. As of now its become more of a personal choice to more or less “censor ” my tweets, but I’m finding that it is definitely more my personal thoughts that I’m censoring.
    I know I go into a tweet thinking of its relevance to my reader and also in hopes of them seeing my personality through them. Sometimes I’ll go for the angry tweet as a way of venting and I, more often than not, will stop myself realizing that I’m not the only person in the world who might be having a bad day. My intentions are never to go “under the radar” but I definitely do not want to stand out for the wrong reasons. I think people who do tweet more consciously and have a sort of “clean” profile give off a sense of respect as well. Maybe in choosing your words carefully, you’re subconsciously attracting the type of follower you want as well. I know for certain that about 50% of the people I follow I only do as to not feel as though i’m offending them by not following; I also know those are the same people whose tweets my eyes just pass right over. There are definitely many ways people can interpret this type of censorship and I believe it is definitely just in the judgment of the actual follower.

  7. In my honest opinion, it doesn’t really matter to me if someone has high censorship on their social media accounts. Our generation is losing grip of our real face-to-face interactions and, as a result of that, are becoming socially inept. The need to express who you are on social media other than professional reasons is understandablly gratifying, but are they necessary?

    It’s understandable that companies are searching for information on employees. But if a person is serious about pursuing their career and being professional, does it make sense to vent just for the sake of “keeping it real?”

    Another problem with social media is that most pictures are going be during occassions of celebration and having fun. I mean, Who takes pictures of themselves doing school work or in participating in a class room lecture? So I hope from the company standpoint, they taking these types of things into account.

  8. I believe there needs to be a balance. Yes some censorship maybe necessary at times, but you can not hide the real you. No one is perfect and everyone likes to have fun. What matters most is how you conduct yourself in your work environment, and how you represent your company outside of work. As long as you are not breaking any laws or posting nudity or sexually explicit material, you should be able to share what you want freely with friends and family on social media. You should be able to be yourself.

  9. I completely understand why companies would search employee’s social media profiles. I understand that their employees “misbehaving” reflects poorly on them. But I think there needs to be some leeway here. It’s also extremely unrealistic to think an employee is going to be about their job all the time – we all have and deserve lives outside of work. I think companies would do best to save the largest punishment – firing someone – for things like illegal activities, or blatantly trashing the jobs or clients. And perhaps they should come up with a lesser punishment for other distasteful content or pictures. Having a picture up of you (legally) drinking or wearing a bathing suit might be in poor taste, but it is not the end of the world. Companies should be a little more understanding of something like that.

  10. I really hate heavy profile censorship, but sometimes I need to delete what I posted before. In some way, social media makes our lives have no secret. Especial for the famous people. They post their thoughts on social media platform, however, the posted massage may cause trouble to themselves. When Weibo, the Chinese Facebook, issued in China. Many people posted their ideas, photos, and lives on it. It just like a electronic diary. People record their daily life on it. Later, people found that their opinion may cause trouble for them, so, many people delete what they posted. Including me, I hope to record my life, or share my views with others. However, others will judge me according to what I post. I feel like that my life is watched. As social media is a public platform, I think that we can’t really showcase sometimes, even though we want to do so.

  11. I am definitely one of those people, who deleted their old Twitter account. I did it for two reasons: I wanted a clean, “professional” start and I needed to get rid of all of my virtual past. As a high schooler/early college student, I used Twitter as a way of “venting” (which is never a good idea)… I obviously grew up, since then and realized that my profession requires a little more…professionalism, I would say? Now, my twitter is mainly for what I want to pursue in life and little tidbits of my life. My Facebook has always been and still is private and closed off for only close friends and family; I still freak out knowing I have almost 430 friends, when others have thousands. I think it just comes with the person. If a person rather be more private, they will be… If people truly understand how harmful social media sites can be for reputations, they’re more likely to take the path I took. Then, you have the rest of the people who A. don’t care or B. don’t like social media.

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