My husband often jokes that growing up he made a fool of himself too many times, but “thank goodness it wasn’t on Facebook or a reality TV show watched by millions.” While he is being humorous he is also being insightful. Today’s generation is growing up in a time when mistakes can be damaging and publicized to the world for infinity. It may have been fun for my husband dancing with a Sake bottle on his head in the late 70’s, but that was then and this is the day of social media when the photo would be sent worldwide and possibly misunderstood in corporate America.
According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, 37% of employers use social media sights to research job applicants. “Because social media is a dominant form of communication today, you can certainly learn a lot about a person by viewing their public, online personas,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “However, hiring managers and human resources departments have to make a careful, determined decision as to whether information found online is relevant to the candidates’ qualifications for the job.”
If you are a teen or young adult (like my children) the choices you make today may end up posted on someone’s Facebook or web sight for eternity. As your career sky rockets one of your teen friends may become jealous and decide to pull out those old, destructive, image destroying photos and post them online. We have all seen it before with celebrities, but it is a real concern for those of us who are unknowns as well. Your friend in high school or college may become jealous with your success later in life and decide to show the world events you would prefer to remain in the preverbal closet.
While social media can destroy a career it can also enhance your chances of being hired. According to CareerBuilder, “employers are also looking for information that could potentially give a job seeker an advantage. Three in ten hiring managers (29 percent) said they have found something that has caused them to hire a candidate…”
CareerBuilder’s Haefner says the company’s research reiterates the value of controlling your online persona at all times. “Job seekers should be mindful of what potential employers can learn about them online,” she said. “If you choose to leave social media content public, tailor the message to your advantage. Filter out anything that can tarnish your professional reputation and post communications, links and photos that portray you in the best possible light.”
The solution of not being on Facebook isn’t a solution for the younger generation. According to Forbes magazine writer Kashmire Hill, “I’m seeing the suggestion more and more often that a missing Facebook account raises red flags.”
I predict that in a dozen years from now people will be proud to have invisible sightings online. Companies will develop that not only help manage an online presence, but also helps create a stealth mode of social media that is as private and hidden as it is visible today. In the 70’s and 80’s some American families paid for an unlisted phone number for privacy. In 2024 American’s may once again be paying to keep all their online information private. The world doesn’t need to know how much money you paid for your house or your salary if you’re a public school teacher. Privacy will come with a price, but it will come.
Today, however, Hill expresses a growing concern, “But it does seem that increasingly, it’s expected that everyone is on Facebook in some capacity, and that a negative assumption is starting to arise about those who reject the Big Blue Giant’s siren call. Continuing to navigate life without having this digital form of identification may be like trying to get into a bar without a driver’s license.”
According to Reppler, a firm dedicated to managing people’s internet visibility, the Top 5 reasons hiring managers hired a candidate based on social presence include:
1.The candidate gave a positive impression of their personality and organizational fit.
2.The profile supported their professional qualifications.
3.The profile showed that the candidate was creative.
4.The candidate demonstrated solid communication skills.
5.The profile showed that the candidate was well-rounded.
Bidhan “Bobby” Parmar, professor at the Darden School of Business, may have sage advice when he states, “Before posting information and photographs on Facebook, remember that in the virtual world, our houses are made of glass. Every piece of data is permanent and stored in a digital archive. More than half of employers cite provocative photographs as the biggest factor in the decision not to hire.”
My message for my children (and you) is to make wise choices that you are always happy and comfortable having the world view. While you aren’t on a reality TV program being seen by millions, you’re on social media being seen by a select few that may matter more to you than all the millions watching an invasive, destructive show. Be yourself, but don’t risk your reputation on a moment of insanity. And, finally, if you want to make a fortune, develop a program that people can buy that will keep their personal life private and
Sheri Staak has served in many Vice Presidential roles at both large privately held and publicly traded global companies. She’s a corporate powerhouse and has been the recipient of numerous sales awards and recognitions. In addition to her key position in a highly aggressive, extremely competitive industry, Sheri is a regular contributor to a travel newsletter, lending her expertise by writing articles that provide tips and advice for business travelers. She also shares her wisdom and business perspectives with regular postings at her leadership-focused blog, The Staak Report.