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Student Social Media: The False Equivalency of “Nothing to Hide” and “Something to Show”

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When it comes to college admissions, scholarships, and jobs almost all students are now acutely aware that colleges and employers will be checking their social media.

A recent survey of more than 1,000 20-25 year old recent and soon to be college graduates found that 68% of respondents said they would never try to hide their social media accounts from potential employers.

In assessing these findings, the survey sponsor surmised: “This transparency is a boon for potential employers. Social media provides a wealth of information for hiring managers.” While this statement is absolutely true and applies equally to colleges admissions, it also perfectly illustrates an important false equivalence. When it comes to achieving college and career objectives, having nothing to hide on social media does not equate to having something to show. More and more colleges and employers are using social media to learn about their applicants in ways never before possible. They are not interested in finding reasons to reject applicants by finding embarrassing posts or objectionable online content.

The missing piece of this puzzle is emphasizing to students the importance of building a digital presence that distinguishes them and tells their story: their diversity, personal successes and challenges, their unique interests and talents. This is the content that will help students to stand out in a competitive academic and professional environment.

Social media can be used to build a digital presence that advances a student’s academic and career objectives in unique and powerful ways. Avoiding the negatives while not publishing the positives yields a digital presence devoid of any actionable information. Most students view social media as a wild card that needs to be neutralized so it does not interfere with the traditional metrics of grades, test scores, essays, resumes and cover letters. It is incumbent upon students to educate themselves so they can proactively use social media as a tool to help them achieve their worthy dreams and highest aspirations.

Alan Katzman, the founder of Social Assurity, is an accomplished law and business executive with background in technology and software, compliance, human resources and investigations. Alan has lectured extensively on the topic of social media education for students and published numerous pioneering articles on the topic. Alan sees Social Assurity’s mission as educational as well as entrepreneurial.

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