Back 2 Business Series – Written by Cassandra Helmer
There is a common saying that we have all heard before diving into a new situation: first impressions matter. So, as students entering the “real world” as professionals, many for the very first time, we shine our shoes, practice a firm handshake, and go into interviews with a winning smile. There is nothing to be nervous about, right? Except for the fact that your future employer has already pulled up your Facebook page and is scrolling through images you now wish had never seen the light of day.
It can happen to the best of us, really. In this age of selfies, everyday updates, and immediate posting, it is easy to forget how the things we love to post on sites like Instagram and Twitter can affect how we are perceived in a professional setting. Many companies require their employees to maintain an image that complies with how the company wishes to be perceived in the public sphere. This varies based on company culture and title, but like it or not, our digital footprints are a first impression of who we are (inside and outside of the office). No one wants to miss out on a job opportunity because an employer disapproves of their social media account. As the online world becomes even more integrated with our day-to-day lives, digital platforms will continue to be powerful tools for networking and creating opportunities. And so, in a professional setting, it is always better to be safe than to be sorry.
If you are ready to take control of your professional image online, read on for some helpful tips.
- If you are unsure, ask a trusted professional. It never hurts to get a second opinion. Ask someone trustworthy, who has your career goals at heart, if a photo or tweet seems appropriate for the type of image you are trying to convey within your workplace. Is this something that you really want anyone to be able to see, or would it be better shared with a select group in person or through a private channel? If you can imagine having a negative conversation with your boss about a post you have made, one that may impact your position, take a moment to reconsider.
- Think about the image of your ideal job. What kind of personal activities and attitude does your dream company expect from its employees? Are you active in your community? Well-traveled? Attending business conferences? Make sure your digital self reflects the best parts of you even after you clock out. It can sometimes be difficult to imagine where you will end up, career-wise, down the road. However, if you are careful with your digital presence as a professional in the present, you will have nothing to worry about in the future.
- Maybe you are currently working at a job and not worried about making first impressions anymore. Nevertheless, this is no time to slack off. Posts containing such things as co-worker rumors, private workplace information, or a Snapchat posted from the boss’s chair on lunch break do not belong on social media. It may seem like a joke at the time, but it could land you in serious trouble if the wrong person (or Human Resources) sees it.
These tips and a responsible attitude toward social media can aid you in taking charge of your digital presence so that you can be sure you are making a great first impression before you even walk in the door.
Cassandra Helmer is a student assistant in the College of Business Office of Academic Services. An English major in her senior year, Cassandra is a member of EMU Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team and holds a position within Alpha Sigma Tau sorority.
I was clueless when it came to transferring to a university. I had so many questions running through my head and had no direction. I will never regret the day I decided to attend Eastern Michigan University! EMU is where I found the motivation to continue my academic career and strive towards my future endeavors.
For EMU, transfer students must have a minimum grade point average of 2.0 or higher. Before applying, there are admission advisors available for meetings to discuss transferring. They will go over your transferable credits based off of your transcripts, and the available programs. The admission advisors can also answer questions you have about transferring and guide you through the process. If you are coming from a community college and have earned an associate’s degree, check to see if you have an MACRAO (Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers) agreement. This agreement basically means that you have completed all of your general education courses and you are ready to focus solely on your program requirements. Your transfer will be a lot simpler with this!
Once you have spoken to an admissions advisor, I suggest attending Explore Eastern Open House. This is an excellent opportunity to get to know EMU! Faculty will be there to present their programs, student workers will be available for collaboration, advisors will be handy for any questions, and campus tours will allow you to explore our beautiful campus. The best part is that if you attend the event, your application fee is waived! You’re saving $35 just by attending an event that can be very helpful in the decision process.
Another opportunity that waives the application fee is the Transfer Open House. Similar to Explore Eastern, the Transfer Open House is a chance to explore the programs EMU has to offer and meet with academic advisors.
If you are unable to attend Explore Eastern or the Transfer Open House, you should at least schedule a 90-minute campus tour another day. It is crucial to know the campus you’re attending. After the campus tour, soak in the beauty of Ypsilanti! The city is a big appeal to college students because there is so much in walking distance from campus. Check out Depot Town, Downtown Ypsilanti, amazing restaurants, coffee shops, and all of the different locations available to hang out with the new people you meet at EMU.
After you decide that EMU is the school for you, look into the transfer scholarships available. Any opportunity to save money is a great opportunity. Check housing information as well. There are dorms, campus apartments, and off-campus listings available so secure your living situation before packing up.
Transferring to EMU was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The transfer process was so easy, the faculty was very pleasant, it was simple to make friends and get involved, and the campus was breathtaking. I highly suggest transferring to Eastern Michigan University, you won’t regret it!
Stevie Newton | Student Assistant, University Marketing
I’ve always felt that being a student is one of the most challenging jobs there is – a mix of exploration and attempts to master a subject – being a student is a test of personal resolve and confidence. It’s actually not unlike interviewing for a professional employment opportunity, which is also an arena to explore the opportunity for alignment with your goals and a test of your confidence and persistence.
As a professional recruiter and HR executive, I have always admired candidates who are professionally persistent. They follow up, cite prior elements of our conversation and enthusiastically express their interest in the position. I recommend a brief follow-up email or phone call after an interview.
There are many types of interviews, and I encourage you to be prepared and poised.
Phone Interviews are very common and a first screening mechanism for busy recruiters. The recruiter is looking to assess your knowledge, skills and abilities against the job description as well as your motivational fit and interest level. They’ll likely inquire as to your salary expectations and scheduling or travel requirements. Treat it like a formal interview by being prepared. Have notes in front of you and ensure you are not driving or in a crowded place with lots of background noise. Ensure you build rapport, but be succinct and communicate effectively. End by asking a few questions about the company or role.
Skype or Facetime Interviews are also common, especially for jobs requiring relocation. Their primary purpose is also screening, but the visual interaction also allows for assessment of communication style, interpersonal skills, and professional presence. Treat it like a formal interview: prepare yourself and your environment (be aware of the camera field’s view), have notes in front of you, dress for a formal interview, build rapport and make eye contact (look at the camera, not the screen), and have behavioral examples of your skills and abilities ready. Conclude by asking questions about the interviewer, company, and job.
In-person interviews are your ultimate goal. The company extends this invitation with the purpose of screening and assessment of fit with culture, as well as evaluating your communication style, interpersonal skills, professional presence, and fit with the team and company culture, in addition to your knowledge, skills and abilities assessment against the job description, motivational fit, salary expectations and other requirements. This is a formal occasion, and you should always dress for a formal interview, wearing a suit and polished shoes. Work to build rapport and make eye contact regularly throughout the interview. Work on a firm hand shake, smile frequently and have behavioral examples of your skills and abilities ready to share. Conclude by asking questions about the interviewer, company, and job.
Behavioral examples are responses detailing examples from your past. During a behavioral interview, you will be asked questions designed to get you to talk about how you handled or responded to certain situations. Behavioral questions usually begin with a statement like: ‘Tell me about a time when…’ or ‘Can you a describe a situation where…’. With each answer, you’ll be expected to describe experiences from your past, summarizing the situation or tasks, the actions you took and the outcome or results. I’d encourage you to identify 5 to 7 of your strongest attributes/talents and to write out an example that highlights each one in advance of your interview. This exercise will have you prepared and able to more confidently relay your strengths, which is exactly what we hope the interview opportunity affords.
Best wishes for successful interviewing!
Written by: Karen F. Andrews, MSHROD, SHRM-SCP and proud EMU Alum