As a foreign medical graduate applying for US medical residency programs, there are lots of factors that play into the determination of whether or not you end up matched. Obviously, your primary application materials–like your personal statement and letters of recommendation–play a huge role, as do your scores on the USMLE tests, especially Step 1 and Step 2. However, there are also less formal aspects of your candidacy that can play into the matching process, including your online presence.
These days, it’s simply standard practice for admissions officials at US medical residency programs to google a candidate before seeking a match. With so much information available online, most admissions admissions officials consider it wasteful–or even irresponsible–not to take a quick look at a candidate’s online presence. Therefore, as you prepare to apply for US medical residency programs, you should start thinking about how you appear on your social media and professional networking accounts. Read on for some tips that can help you make a good impression when admissions officials take a look at the available online information about you.
Embracing a Professional Social Media Presence
Deciding to apply for a US medical residency program doesn’t mean you have to delete all of your social media profiles and try to disappear completely from the internet. In fact, depending on your age and the country where you earned your medical degree, it might be surprising to program officials if they see that you don’t have an account on Facebook, Instagram, or another popular platform. Applying for a US medical residency just gives you the chance to review your accounts and make sure that you are presenting a professional social media presence. Here are the main things you should do:
- Make your social media profiles private. One of the easiest ways to maintain the professionalism of your online presence is to set all of your social media accounts to “private.” For most social media platforms, it’s easy access your profile settings and make sure that only your friends can see your personal information and posts. Medical residency program officials will recognize this as a sign that you–like so many people around the world–enjoy the opportunity to connect with others on social media, but you’re responsible enough to limit your interactions to those with people you know.
- Choose an appropriate public profile picture. On many social media websites, anyone can see your profile picture, even before you have approved them to view your full profile. Therefore, you may want to choose a profile picture that you would not mind a program official looking at. You do not need to go out and have a professional photo taken, but it is ideal to choose a photo that generally reflects well upon you–portraying you as the serious, thoughtful, motivated, passionate, hardworking person you are. Whether it’s a photo of you from in full robes at your medical school graduation or a candid shot of you hiking with your family in a scenic area, you want to choose profile photos that you think would be perceived positively by almost anyone.
- Beef up your LinkedIn account. If you have an account on LinkedIn (or another popular professional networking website), make sure that the information on the account is accurate and up-to-date. If you don’t regularly use the account, there’s no need to spend hours trying to improve it. You just want to make sure that the information the account is consistent with the things you list on your CV and talk about in your personal statement. If you are an active user with an extensive amount of content on your account, you may want to set aside time to go through your whole profile and in order to check for discrepancies.
Erasing Potential Red Flags
Even if your social media accounts are set to private, it’s still a good idea to get rid of any posts or photos that could raise red flags for program officials, since you never know when they might fall into the wrong hands. Take the time to untag yourself in photos from the craziest parties you attended, or get rid of the albums altogether. You may also want to delete any potentially offensive or inflammatory statements you might have made on Twitter or other platforms. There’s nothing wrong with putting up posts in support of political or social causes–in fact, truly passionate advocacy may be viewed favorably by program officials–but it’s usually best to get rid of anything that is downright rude, mean-spirited, or include any profanity. Also, if you have out-of-date accounts on platforms that you don’t use anymore, now is a great time to get rid of them.
The bottom line is, it’s not likely that your online profile will make or break your US medical residency application, but it’s never a bad idea to take every opportunity you can to make a good impression. For more tips on how you can present yourself as an excellent foreign medical residency candidate, contact FMG Portal today!