It’s the middle of your junior year and you and a friend are looking for that one great internship to complete your nearly perfect résumés. You have the grades, the work ethic, and the writing chops, and you’ve whisked cover letters and CVs into the inboxes of every internship coordinator in a 50-mile radius. Your friend is called in for an interview, but you’re still waiting for a response. What gives? It could be something as simple as your Facebook photo.
As the Intern Coordinator at Schneider Associates, I told my current interns, “When I hired you, I wanted to know you before I met you.” Internships are an investment by the company and the student and it’s important for both parties to be sure the investment is worthy, which is why both company and intern should check each other out. A candidate may have the chops, but their social media activity can be the deciding vote when it comes to being picked out of the position-seeking crowd.
We’ve asked our staff and star interns to recommend their best social media practices, which include:
- Inquiry is the best form of flattery. Send a private LinkedIn message or utilize your university’s alumni database to connect with those in your target career field. Don’t post publicly on a potential employer’s personal pages. Ask to meet for coffee and come prepared with thoughtful questions.
- Be one with your surroundings. Share current events and industry-specific news on your active social pages. When trying to land an interview, frame a company’s struggle or success within a current event or find some interesting industry news and speak to your insight on the topic in your inquiry. This will help you stand out from the crowd and peak their interest.
- Use privacy settings, but don’t shut us out. When we look at your profiles, we should have an idea of your personality, interests and what you’re talking about, but we don’t need to see the photos from your friend’s 21st. If you do keep your profiles (especially Facebook) open, keep it PG.
- Personal space. Only connect on social channels with hiring managers if you’ve interacted previously. If you are going to reach out, stick to LinkedIn or a company email address; we like to keep our personal and professional lives separate, too.
- Research is a two-way street. Hiring managers can research you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find them. Do some digging to identify the right person and avoid using “Dear Sir or Madam.” Also avoid the “one-size-fits-all” approach by ensuring your cover letter is personalized for the company to which you are applying.
- Don’t be a fair-weather fan. You may follow a company on multiple platforms, but are you retweeting, sharing and commenting on their content? Show you’re involved before you join the team.
- Typos. We expect you to proofread and use correct grammar in the office, but it’s always a bummer to find sum1s profile dat luks lyke dis. Your profiles and materials represent your first test, so use spellcheck and proper grammar and go through word by word – “if” looks like “of” looks like “off,” but none will trigger that little red line.
- Say my name, say my name. If you’ve found the hiring manager’s name, be sure you spell it correctly. This seems obvious, but I (Jamie) have been called everything from Jaime to Jaimie to Janice.
- If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it. It’s frustrating to be turned down for that dream position, but keep it off social media. Taking unfortunate developments in stride is a benchmark of professionalism, and you never know – maybe you’ll meet the intern coordinator again down the line. Don’t set yourself up for an awkward situation.
Don’t be afraid to get creative. One of my favorite examples of savvy social media use is Rachael King’s living resume. If you’re just starting out, you may still be working up to your own personal living resume, but these tips and tricks will give you the necessary head start.