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Students should be wary of social media when applying for jobs, panelists say

Associate Director for Marketing and Communications at BU's Center for Career Development Eleanor Cartelli and Public Relations professor Steve Quigley discuss how Twitter can help students land a job at Mugar Memorial Library Monday. RACHEL SHOWALTER/DFP Staff

While Facebook and other social networking sites attempt to merge users’ public, private and digital lives, Boston University students can still make a strong impression in the professional setting, a speaker said Monday night in Mugar Memorial Library to an audience of 25 people.

College of Communication professors John Carroll and Steve Quigley ran a panel discussion, called “In Your Facebook! How to Maximize Social Media Personally and Professionally.” The two professors joined Eleanor Cartelli, the associate director of marketing and communication at the Center for Career Development.

“Everyone has some sort of digital life they are conducting,” Carroll said.

Social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Tumblr incorporate the three “personas” users have, he said. Their personas are what distinguish their public, private and digital lives.

Carroll said Facebook and Google+ can provide a “great service,” as it helps students market themselves, but that the best way to manage themselves is by managing that information.

“Controlling takes effort, time and strategy,” Carroll said. “One of the most important things you can do. Every student at BU is affected.”

Carroll said that Facebook’s recent changes in privacy controls and its facial recognition tools have affected people in the public sense, particularly in identifying the attackers in the London riots in August.

The seminar also explored Facebook’s disadvantages for users in the job market. Carroll called Facebook a “double-headed monster,” as employers use the site as a surveillance tool to monitor applicants and employers.

Cartelli said social media narrows the amount and type of information that people consume, especially if people subscribe to users with a particular viewpoint. Users on Twitter, for example, can choose the opinions to which they are exposed and may not necessarily see various ideas, she said.

“I am going to join a few more groups and take advantage of LinkedIn,” said College of Communication senior Jessica Owen. “It is going to come in handy.”

Quigley described Facebook as a network that treads “uncharted waters … moving in multiple, even opposite, directions at the same time.”

Quigley said that COM offers a program called the “reverse mentors,” in which current seniors lead training sessions in how to use social media for COM alumni.

Students searching for internships and jobs should clean up their Facebook profiles, Cartelli said. While many situations are out of students’ control, being aware of certain privacy options can help avoid conflict.

“Companies want employees to have a ‘digital footprint,’ i.e. ‘let me see that you can do for us what you do for yourself’ on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn,” Quigley said.

Carroll advises people to start a blog, but to do it for the writing, not for the readers.

“Writing as a skill is the best thing to bring into the marketplace,” Carroll. “It is invaluable to prospective employers. It shows that you can manage language in a distinctive way.”

Facebook will be adding new features soon, Carroll said, including a locked toolbar that he said will “be one more way to let Facebook to be your portal to everything.”

Some students said the seminar will lead them to be more conscious of their online personas.

“I am going to get back onto Twitter, to have a ‘digital footprint’ that they talked about,” said Allyson Galle, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences.

One Comment

  1. Kimberly Messadieh

    You make me proud, Kaylee. I’ll share this with my current journalism students.