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The Top 3 Mistakes Millennials Are Making on Social Media

Social media is fun and millennials know it. I'm a millennial and you are too, if you were born between 1980-2000.

With Snapchat or Instagram to play with all day, it's no wonder that when it's time to venture out into the workforce, we haven't a clue how to use social media to our advantage.

For us, being online or texting is like our parents using the microwave or VCR – it's normal. We've grown up using computers and being online, all the while developing our online persona – probably as early as elementary school.

This social media footprint that we've created as a teen or in our early twenties will follow us as we enter the workforce and potentially damage our chances at succeeding in a job.

As millennials are leaving college and entering the workforce, many are unequipped and unprepared at utilizing social media to help spur their professional career. William Ward, professor of social media Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, says,

"Just because somebody grows up being a social media native, it doesn't make them an expert in using social media at work. That's like saying, 'I grew up with a fax machine, so that makes me an expert in business.'"

So what are the mistakes we as millennials are making on social media that could be hurting our chances at landing that internship or position we've always wanted?

1. Not Focusing on Security or Privacy

Millennials are much more trusting online than previous generations and believe online privacy isn't a concern.

According to a study done by USC's Annenberg Center for the Digital Future and Bovitz Inc., we are more willing to give up privacy information to businesses in return for tangible benefits.

As long as we receive a "freebie" or something in return, giving up our location or allowing businesses access to private information is seen as okay. Elaine B. Coleman, managing director of media and emerging technologies says

“Millennials think differently when it comes to online privacy. Millennials say, ‘I’ll give up some personal information if I get something in return.’ For older users, sharing is a function of trust -- ‘the more I trust, the more I am willing to share.’”

Giving up information and passing on privacy can hurt the chances for millennials at landing a job. Simply liking an inappropriate Facebook page or accidentally Instagramming a photo with a partial view of your driver license can look careless and negligent to recruiters.

Take it from me, I've had to learn to not be so trusting. If you want to appear professional and not so naive, try increasing your privacy settings and make sure to avoid putting your location and birth date on social media profiles.

2. Sharing Everything

Millennials are known to Instagram what they ate for breakfast, tweet where they're going for lunch and post photos on Facebook of their night out at Bubba's Bar.

If you don't already know, 43% of businesses are using social media networking sites to research potential candidates. The number one reason a millennial will not get a job is because of inappropriate or provocative photos on various social networking sites.

A close second is sharing photos of you drinking or doing drugs. I know it might be hard to switch your social media brand from a fun and spirited teen or college student to one that wants to get hired, but that's exactly what you have to do if you want to be seen as a professional.

To switch your online brand to something more professional, start by taking down inappropriate content on your profiles. If you feel you still want to maintain a casual and social profile, you could always make new profiles that are strictly professional.

But remember, recruiters can find where you are spending your time, so either up your privacy or do a spring cleaning on your social media accounts.

3. Creating a Professional Brand Online

Millennials spend an average of 18 hours online a day gobbling up social media content.

We should know by now that whatever we put out there online, it stays out there, forever. So, if you feel your social media brand isn't conveying your desire to be responsible and motivated to work, then it's time to create a professional brand online.

Create a LinkedIn profile for a start. You can keep it upbeat while still optimizing your profile with your expertise using industry related keywords.

You could even create a website that showcases your skill set and highlights your achievements and relevant work history. Treat your professional website as a business card and résumé all in one.

As the Facebook generation enters the workforce, we must take a break from texting and become educated in using social media to our advantage. It can mean the difference between getting hired or not.

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