So often we hear of the digital footprint that has gone awry – over-the-top party pictures coming back to haunt jobseekers during an important interview, or college admissions officers discovering profanity-laced Instagram posts as they assess a prospective student’s strengths and weaknesses. The good news? Your digital footprint does not have to be something that looms large and hideous over your life after high school. It can be a powerful tool that you leverage as you build your online persona in preparation for college and career.
‘A Skill to Add to My Résumé’
Jessamyn Moore, 23, has figured out an innovative way to use social media to improve her job prospects. Moore, who recently graduated from the University of Glasgow in Scotland with a master’s degree in museum studies, has started a museum-themed Twitter feed (@JessamynMoore). Her goal is to work in museums, and she thought a relevant social media channel would give her a competitive advantage. “Having a Twitter feed I can show during an interview or [use to] attract attention to myself can translate into a skill to add to my résumé,” says Moore.
Moore, who went to Northview High School in Brazil, Indiana, is determined to have a digital footprint that is positive and professional. More importantly, she is vigilant over her social media presence, monitoring any potential digital dirt on her LinkedIn, Twitter and even her Facebook profile that could prevent people from hiring her.
A curator whom Moore met from the Scottish National Portrait Gallery inspired her to run a career-related Twitter feed. She gave Moore valuable insight into life in the professional museum world. Often, she said, institutions don’t have the funding to hire a dedicated social media expert, so sometimes curators will help out on the museum’s Facebook feed, even though they weren’t hired specifically for marketing. Moore decided, why wait until I’m hired? I can start “curating” online museum news right away.
Moore focuses on a different museum each week in her Twitter feed. She chirps throughout the week about what that museum is up to now and what it plans to feature in the coming weeks. “If I highlight the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, then on Wednesday, I might discuss what exhibits are [coming up],” she notes.
Moore keeps a notebook with a list of museums, along with notes of anniversaries and ideas. Recently, she tweeted, “25 years ago yesterday the Berlin Wall fell. Commemorate this occasion by stopping by the East Side Gallery this #MuseumMonday #BerlinWall.”This past Halloween, Moore jotted down in her notebook that an underground Scottish tourist attraction called Real Mary King’s Close would be perfect because it’s supposedly visited by a ghostly little girl. Moore marked the occasion by tweeting, “Happy Halloween! Check out @MaryKingsClose to learn about the haunting past of Edinburgh’s now underground neighborhood! #ExploreMuseums.”
The Privacy of a Postcard
While Moore maintains her Twitter feed and LinkedIn profile on a professional level, she does think of her Facebook feed as private and personal. However, her own rule of thumb is this: “If I don’t want my grandparents to see it, I won’t post it.”
Her father, a university professor, always warned her (like on a weekly basis!) that “anything that goes on the Internet stays on the Internet.” He’s seen how social media has prevented his students from getting jobs. Even if you’re not friends with someone on Facebook, acquaintances can access your profile and news feeds through other people. A recruiter might ask a potential employee to access Facebook feeds or friends. So, “even if your profile is private, you have to be careful,” Moore warns. Experts agree that social media generally has all the privacy of a postcard.
Ever since high school, Moore has regularly used social media, like Facebook and WhatsApp, to keep in touch with family and friends. For her undergraduate degree, Moore moved to Germany to study history and international politics at Jacobs University.
During her time as a college intern at the Ellis Island Museum of Immigration in New York City, she realized she wanted “to be that person who explains and introduces a museum collection to the public as a hands-on way to work with history,” she says. Though she hasn’t landed a position yet, she’s confident her online presence will only help, not hinder, her search for the ideal job. #ExploreMuseums.
How is Jess Moore exploring her own interests, building her knowledge and preparing for the workforce at the same time? Do you have a passion for which this approach might work? If so, what is it? How might you play it up on social media?
Social media offers many opportunities to express ourselves creatively. Can you think of unique ways to use different platforms as creative – and tasteful – public forums?
One expert notes that you should be both a giver and taker on social media? Rather than only asking and saying “I want” or “I am," you should become a resource and give four times for every one time you receive. How might you do this?