It may have been an innocent group picture taken during a tailgate or a friend's 21st birthday party, but what students put on their social media can come back to haunt them when they apply for jobs.

Charlie Ricker, assistant director for the Ball State Career Center, said one-third of employers have rejected a candidate based on social media. Some common reasons employers reject candidates are provocative photos, references to drinking or drugs, speaking poorly of previous employers and poor online communication skills. 

Jennifer Radke, CEO of the National Institute for Social Media, echoed Ricker and said the largest problem people have while managing their social media is a lack of professionalism.

“Often times, what they are finding in social media are unprofessional or inappropriate posts, pictures or comments that give them some insight into what that person might be like in the workplace,” Radke said.

While many students have fun in college, Radke said they need to realize some things are "not appropriate for their social media."

“I see some kids doing some really harmful things, not only to their career, but before they even get there,” Radke said. “The reality is that online, nothing is ever fully private, even if you set your privacy settings to only friends and family.”

The National Institute for Social Media, Radke said, is a company that helps people create and manage their social media to give future employers something professional to look at. Students looking for jobs can use resources provided by NISM to improve their social media presence and assess what should — or shouldn't — make its way onto their online profiles.

Ricker added that more than 70 percent of employers have hired a person based on their social media presence. He said LinkedIn is a valuable tool for students looking for jobs or promotions, and social media in general can help Ball State students connect with more than 93,000 Ball State alumni with accounts.  

Senior Lauren Hazel attended one of the Career Center’s recent presentations about managing social media. She said she's been able to learn more about how to present herself online in a professional manner and tries to stay grounded both on and off social media.

“I don’t express my opinion to be angry on social media,” said Hazel, a sociology and pre-occupational therapy major. “I have just never felt the need to.”

Hazel said she sees some of her peers and friends making bad decisions on social media. Now that she's realizing the repercussions, she's paying more attention to what she posts online too.