A friend of mine recently started going to a large four-year university, after having attended our local community college. While at the community college, she refused to join Facebook. It only took three weeks to go by at the university and suddenly she was an active Facebook user, like so many others I know.
Social networking sites, specifically Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace are now a part of the culture at American Universities. Their names have become verbs. You can now “facebook” someone, as easily as you can call someone. Their impact on a student’s social life can be helpful, but also devastating. Fights can start over a message posted online or an argument can become inflamed and continue through these mediums.
College users often are so wrapped up in their own Facebook worlds that they forget about the bigger picture. An occasional photo of you and your friends having a beer at the local bar shouldn’t devastate your bright and shining future. Picture after picture of standing next to a beer keg and all your drunk buddies, just might. With the downturn of the world economy, the job market has become even more competitive.
So how do you keep that embarrassing picture from being viewed by potential employers? Simple, don’t post it. Don’t put things on Facebook that you aren’t willing to share with a complete stranger. Security measures are nice, but they aren’t fool proof, and people aren’t perfect. If you want to share the picture of you and your friends drinking a whole keg, then email them the pictures. Don’t post them to a website millions of people can access.
Also, remember to self-check your online image. Go to your favorite search engine, type your name in and see what comes up. I assure you, that any computer savvy employer will do the same. Make sure that a simple internet search doesn’t turn up that picture you had forgotten about with your friends goofing off. Knowing your online reputation is comparable to knowing what your former employers will say about you.
Lastly, and perhaps the easiest thing to do is not do stupid things in the first place. In college, my favorite thing to do Monday morning was to pick up a copy of the school newspaper and read the police blotter. This is a log of select police incidents, which happened over the weekend. I was told by my boss on the first day of my job that if I was ever in the blotter, I would no longer have a job. School officials do check things like this and it isn’t hard for a company to find the newspaper of your school and search for your name.
These warnings are not meant to make you paranoid. I enjoy using social media and the web as much as anyone. I love spending time on Facebook and posting pictures of my friends. The internet can be an amazing social tool, but remember to keep your future in mind when sharing information. What you post on the net can be seen by anyone including that potential future employer.
Elissa Yonkers is a recent graduate from Bowling Green State University, with a Bachelors of Science of Journalism with a focus on Public Relations, and a very strong minor in German. With several internship experiences under her belt, she is looking to widen her experience and knowledge with a job in corporate communications, public affairs, or work in a public relations agency. Connect with her here: http://sites.google.com/site/elissay/