Social Media Job Consequences Get College Students’ Attention

Managing Your Online Identity: The Key to Landing Your Dream Job

In a recent post here at Blogging4Jobs, I asked for your best advice to college students on managing their social media.

I got good feedback from recruiters and others on the need for students to realize that what they post online today will greatly affect their future employment opportunities.

My presentation a few days later to some 150 students at The Ohio State University went very well.

The students were very engaged, despite the fact that I was the only person standing between them and Spring Break. (They inspired me to write about spring break tips for students to manage their reputations.)


The key to the students’ engagement, perhaps no surprise, is that I focused on the very real consequence for their employment.

In the beginning, I asked how many were currently seeking a job. About a third raised their hands. Then I asked how many would be looking in a year, two or three, which raised most hands.

To that I showed a slide with “91%” on it. That, I told them, is the percentage of employers who, in a 2011 study by, said that they used social media in screening job candidates.


I told them there was good news and bad news from this study. The bad news is that 69% said they rejected a candidate based on social media findings. The good news is that 68% said they’d hired a candidate based on social profiles. (The same employers might have rejected or accepted candidates.)

I asked the students to guess the reasons in each category and they did well. For rejection, it was inappropriate photos and posts, discriminatory remarks and poor communications skills, among others.

For accepting applicants, the reasons were, among others, presenting a well-rounded person, showing a positive personality and qualifications and strong communication skills.


This seemed to gain their undivided attention for the rest of the program, which focused on specific online strategies for cleaning up their pasts, safeguarding their current and managing their future posts. When I finished and dismissed them, I offered to answer questions. The majority stayed and asked strong questions.

I had given the students a Twitter hash tag to use and their Tweets reflected an understanding of the importance of their online reputations, which was pleasing. Given that it was almost Spring Break, my favorite Tweet was from a woman who said she was “Glad she showed up for class.” Now, I hope they put my advice to use and begin to seriously manage their online identities.

John Millen

John Millen, @johnmillen, is the Chief Strategist and blogger for Reputation Group. He is also a husband, father, runner and cyclist. John partners with leaders to improve their communications skills and confidence. Connect with John on LinkedIn.

Reader Interactions


  1. shannonsmedstad says

    Hi John,

    Great post! I am presenting to students via Skype at UC Riverside next month on social media + job search. This was very helpful.


  2. Rory Trotter says

    Great post.

    John, another thing I want to bring up (that you touched on) is how social media can be a competitive advantage. If someone has a strong presence then (depending on the role I’m hiring for) it can be a plus in the interview process.

    Thanks for sharing this (and keep writing).



  3. Spark Hire says

    This is a great article. Often we talk about the benefit of using technology, such as social media and video resume, to stand out. However, we don’t focus enough on how social media can detract from getting hired. No question it will make you stand out, as it will leave a digital foot print that others can easily access. The key is to leave a digital foot print that best represents what you will bring to a company, as opposed to how much fun you had in college. There is nothing wrong with having pictures of good memories you had with friends, but you want to make sure that you keep these pictures to yourself. Especially, if they could hurt your personal brand.

  4. Chris Wechner says

    Hi, John. Awesome point you’re making.

    I work with a youth group in the City of Detroit, and a lot of them use social media. Most of them are not thinking about this potential consequence, and until now, it never occurred to me to share this with this group of teenagers and young adults.

    It’s a real concern and worth sharing. Thanks for providing help I need to deliver better guidance for them. Good stuff!


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