What’s Your Best Advice to College Students on Managing Their Social Media?

How Students Should Manage their Social Media For Success

More and more, I’m speaking to college and high school students about managing their reputations.

I’ve interviewed a few recruiters about how they use social media to evaluate candidates. I’d like to hear from more recruiters who could offer advice on how students should manage their social media to improve their chances of success.

Let me give this a little bit of context.


Today’s college students are the first generation to grow up in an entirely digital world–where everything is online, mobile and hyper-connected.

They’ve also grown up with a sense of transparency never seen in history.

These two facts were running through my mind as I stood on the auditorium stage in front of more than 200 students at The Ohio State University.

I was there because their professor had seen my reputation management presentation at a business luncheon and asked me to speak to the students in her international marketing course.


I outlined for them the 10 keys to reputation management for students, which are similar to those for the rest of us. Among the points I make:

Social media is forever. The posts and photos you put on Facebook, Twitter, or elsewhere are recorded for the rest of your life.

Nothing is private. I encourage the students to use their privacy settings, but assume that what they post will be visible to the world. The question, then, is “would you want your grandmother or others important to you to see this?” If not, don’t post it.

Perception is reality. People, including potential employers, are forming impressions of you based on what they find about you on Google. These impressions of you become reality. If your Google results are solely of you partying or ranting then, in their minds, that is who you are.


Since then I’ve spoken to many more students and find them open to learning to manage their social postings and profiles as they enter the job market and begin their careers.

What advice would you offer these students? Do you review social media of job candidates? What is the worst and best that you have found? Please leave comments and or contact me at the email address below.

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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. Lindsey Sparks says

    We’ve held a Career Day the last two years at American Fidelity and this is one of the topics we address. I think students some times have trouble thinking ahead and about how things they post in high school/college may still be around when they’re searching for jobs.
    One specific example is from when I was in a former job and in the process of hiring someone. I checked the social media pages of my top five candidates. One of them had made multiple comments over a period of several weeks about hating Oklahoma and wanting to move as soon as she could find a job in another state. Since I was hiring in OKC, that was a huge red flag to me that she wouldn’t stay in the job long term.

  2. Jessica Miller-Merrell says

    I’ve made my share of mistakes when it comes to social media and conversation. Sometimes there are things that have been shared that I wish I could take back. The internet makes taking these impulse conversation and tidbits extremely hard because they are never really gone even if you delete the tweet, post, or update share.

    I think the key is to take control of your personal and professional brand online. This means creating opportunities for employers to learn more about you in a controlled sort of way. You are presenting the hiring manager with opportunities to look at the professional you that are planned and controlled making the random social media post seem less important. As a hiring manager, if I only had an angry tweet about hating to live in a city like Lindsey mentions, it can keep you from getting a job. But if I have a website with articles, thoughts, and professional information, it might give a little bit different impression or keep the manager from viewing your angry tweet altogether because with your website they got enough of what they are looking for.

    Simple ways of achieving this include setting up a blog or creating an online website or home where people can find out more about you without you sharing your entire life and potentially damaging information that might just keep you from getting a job.

    Thanks for the post on this. So important.


  3. John Millen says

    @Lindsey,@Jessica, thanks for the insights. I gave this presentation last Thursday night at Ohio State and put a lot of emphasis on employment implications upfront. The students were very engaged throughout, despite the fact that I was the only person standing between them and Spring Break! 😉


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