Could social media stop you getting an internship or apprenticeship?

At university, it can be a race to get the most friends, photo tags, shares, likes and retweets on social media. Photos of drink-the-bar-dry at the union, summer holidays abroad and pub golf don’t exactly present the image you want prospective employers to have of you. While most platforms offer tight security settings for your profiles, you should also monitor the content you’re posting or commenting on publicly. 

Employers and the web

If you join us as a recruitment consultant, we’ll never advise you to check out your candidates online, but this doesn’t mean other employers don’t. Many hiring managers actually conduct their initial search for new staff online, looking for CVs and portfolios and then a more detailed search on professional networks like LinkedIn. It is inevitable in that case that your social channels will appear when a potential employer is searching and this can often be the first impression they get of you.

Value alignment

Finding an intern or apprentice with the right attitude and personality who is a good match with the company’s values is absolutely paramount. If an employer is checking you out online and observes offensive behaviour, while this might not represent you truly, it might sound alarm bells for them.
Of course, your social media usage in your own time is up to you. It is your freedom of speech and personal choice – but it’s still wise to keep a few golden rules of thumb in mind while doing so. This is particularly relevant if you’re embarking on an internship or apprenticeship search.

Tips for a good online presence

  • Secure your profiles
With private/social profiles, it’s wise to activate your full security settings to ensure that only personal acquaintances can access your information. We have detailed guides on how to set up all of your social channels with security in mind here: Optimise your social media
  • Reserve professional networks, such as LinkedIn, for career-related posting
As this is a professional networking tool, it’s best to keep your personal, more casual updates, tweets and comments separate.
  • Be selective with photos 
Think carefully about which photos you choose to post online and monitor the ones that others post of you. Although it may seem unfair for an employer to judge you on a photo, the images that pop up online could have an impact on their perception of you.
  • Avoid foul language, lewd remarks or insults in a public online domain
Employers don’t usually want to associate themselves with someone who has built a reputation as a trouble maker in online spaces.
  • Be cautious of who you accept as a friend/follower/contact
You can’t control what your friends and connections post about online, but you can control your access to them.
Simply put, it’s advisable to be aware of your online image, particularly when you are on the hunt for an internship or apprenticeship. Equally, employers need to take a balanced, sensible and respectful approach to researching candidates online, as these networks are after all, by their very definition – social.