chairSpring break is around the corner — or already here! — for many college students. You can either use this time to lounge around doing nothing, or to improve your job prospects. I recommend you do the latter. Show hiring managers and employers the value you can provide — as well as your manners — by improving your online presence.

Regularly in the news, we read about someone who was fired or had a job offer or scholarship rescinded due to posts they made on social media platforms. Nothing is private on the internet.

My grown children and clients are used to hearing me say, “If you don’t want grandma to see it, don’t post it online.”

Spring break is a time for relaxation — I get that. However, I encourage you to make the most of this opportunity. Do something that will help you learn new skills and make you attractive to employers.

Improve Your  Image

One way to use spring break for the good of your career is to volunteer. Many organizations specifically look for volunteers during spring. A quick online search will net you pages’ worth of organizations seeking help this time of year.

If possible, find a volunteer opportunity that will help you gain or improve skills related to your desired professional field.

Keep a journal of what you did during your volunteer opportunity, as well as a list of the people you met so that you can stay in touch with them. They will be valuable network connections for you.

Use social media to showcase your volunteer work. Post pictures of you volunteering. These will be valuable proof that you have the experience you say you have. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile to reflect your newly gained skills and experiences.

General Tips for Professional Social Media Use

If you choose not to volunteer during spring break, you can still take some time to make sure your online image is up to snuff. Some general tips to follow:

  1. As I said above, do not post anything you know grandma would not approve of.
  2. Do not post negative political comments or share political posts. You do not know what your future employer’s political leanings may be.
  3. Many employers require a drug test as a condition of employment. Do not post pictures of drug use or excessive alcohol use. These photos may lead the viewer to assume you won’t pass a drug test.
  4. Ensure you are not tagged in photos on social media that may harm your image. Ask family and friends not to post embarrassing or unflattering pictures of you online.
  5. Remember, employers want responsible workers who will enhance their corporate brands. Treat your social media presence as a job-hunting tool.

The competition for jobs is fierce. Protect your online reputation. Keep your image squeaky clean so that you do not lose an opportunity.

Jaynine Howard is a military veteran whose work as a career strategist and reinvention specialist has been recognized by professional organizations throughout the nation.

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