Everybody writes about the impact of social media in job searches. It’s basically the same messages over and over again. Problem is, I’m not sure teenagers are listening.
I ask my 17-year old and her friends and they either blow off the question, or say, “Oh really? I haven’t thought much about it.”
Well, kids, THINK ABOUT IT. Parents of teens, PREACH ABOUT IT.
Your online image can help you or it can hurt you. Sure, smart teens know hiring managers are looking at their online profiles and they will put the extra thought and effort into creating a “brand” for themselves early on. They’ll make sure they convey the same positive message across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the rest. They will be conscious of their spelling, and will include things like volunteering and community work and boast their accomplishments without sounding arrogant. In reality, I’d guess only a small percentage of high schoolers are actually this proactive.
For the rest, here are some common sense tips on things to leave off your social media, the things that can reflect negatively on you and prevent you from getting a job.
Leave off compromising photos. This includes images of parties where it looks like there was alchohol, drugs or wild and destructive or abusive behavior. What about sexy photos? Personally, I’m not one of those parents who preaches against bathing suit shots because I know teens love posting them, but keep them to a minimum, and whatever you do, don’t make one your profile pic or cover photo. Instead, choose a photo that makes you look likeable and friendly.
Refrain from profanity. Let’s be real. Teenagers cuss. Most of ‘em, anyhow. That’s been my experience, even the straight laced, brainey ones will slip out a bad word every now and then. This really comes down to respect. Using bad language around acquaintances, your elders, your teachers, your parent’s friends, your relatives shows disrespect. Remember, those people are likely some of your social media audience, too, so where you may be thinking dropping the “f” bomb makes you look cool to your friends, you risk making yourself look really bad to many others, including potential employers.
Don’t gossip! Talking crap about your family, friends, teachers, co-workers, bosses, or anyone just doesn’t look good. A potential employer doesn’t want to hire someone who is high drama and likely to bring that attitude and spread it like poison to everyone else. It’s never a good idea to gossip anyhow, especially in writing, because it’s hard to take back and it doesn’t go away.
Last piece of advice, teens should consider getting an email address that doesn’t draw attention. Establish an account with your name or some variation of your name that you use when applying for jobs.
Take a few minutes right now to look at your social media accounts or to review your kid’s accounts. Apply common sense and clean up the things that may not reflect positively on your character. When in doubt, delete. As you enter college or enter the workforce, you’ll be that much closer to landing a great position.