Let’s face it. We all go through that phase when we LOVE and cannot get enough of social networking sites. When I was a sophomore in college (2004) I signed up for Facebook and when I was a senior in college (2006) I signed up for Myspace. At first, I posted tons of pictures and logged on every single day. I stopped doing Facebook as much when I realized that I was already in touch with my close friends. The people that I connect with via Facebook didn’t need to see my pictures from parties, friend’s weddings, etc. I walked into my old job one day and a co-worker I barely knew recited everything I did that weekend because he had seen my Facebook pictures. And then I stopped. There was no need for people that were not my real friends but my “Facebook Friends” to know all about my personal life.
I have heard several horror stories about students that were not hired for internships or college grads that were fired because of their Facebook/Myspace pages. Keep this in mind when reading the below.
Tips on How To Control Your Social Networking Sites
1. EVERYONE is on it. Is everyone in the world really on Facebook or Myspace ? No. But enough people are that you really need to think of it like that. Everything you write, everything you type, every picture you post - EVERYONE is going to see it. EVERYONE means your parents, friends, ex-friends, ex-boyfriends, relatives, and more important, your BOSS.
2. PICTURES. If you are going to post a few pictures of yourself on your social networking site, that’s fine. Just remember, that these pictures are a representation of YOU. These aren’t pictures that are just viewed by your friends anymore. These are pictures that people of all ages are viewing. I understand that you may like to Party - in every sense of the word. But, save that for your personal emails. Don’t post drunk pictures, smoking pictures, sexual pictures, really goofy pictures on the Internet. Just don’t do it. Always think before posting, “Is this appropriate for my boss to see?”
3. EVERYONE TALKS.Many students will read this and say , “Well I have my profile settings private so only my friends can view these pictures.” Here are my thoughts on that: Most students have not only their close friends on Facebook/Myspace but also their acquaintances, people that you know, but aren’t really your close friends. People talk, especially when it comes to competitive internship/job situations. You don’t want anyone that you don’t trust to see these pictures of you and risk them telling someone, who tells someone, who tells your boss (you get the idea).
4. ACT APPROPRIATELY. There is this big misconception that when you are in college you are granted the ability to act like a silly goose in public. Now that we have the ability to post pictures for all of our networks to view, you really cannot risk acting out. You don’t control where people post pictures when they aren’t taken from your camera. Next time you are at a party, stop and consider your surroundings and think before you act. We all must take responsibility over our actions. It’s not worth loosing a job opportunity or an internship because you felt the need to take “wasted” or “sexy” pictures.
5. STAY OFF AT WORK. When you are interning or working make sure you are not checking your Myspace or Facebook page. This is one quick way for your boss/internship coordinator to determine that you don’t care about your work, or that you are being lazy/wasting time. You are on their clock. Save your Facebook status updating until you are on your personal time clock.
6. KEEP PROFILE RATED G. Again, keep in mind the “Everyone Is Watching” factor when creating/reviewing your proile. Make sure you don’t have any comments that could be suggested as “too sexual” or “too much information”. Keep your interests unique to you, but still appropriate.
7. MODERATE YOUR COMMENTS. Many of these sites have functions where you can moderate comments before they appear on your “Wall”. If you don’t have this feature set up make sure you are constantly monitoring what others are writing. You don’t want someone writing dirty or graphic messages on your wall. Also, make sure that your wall isn’t filled with curse words.
Is it standard for an employer to check your social networking sites before hiring you ? No. But, in this new tech-savvy environment, where everyone is online and joining these communities, it is definitely happening. Watch yourself and have control of your social networking.
I asked my Twitter (Tweeps) how they felt about the subject:
“No naked pictures and no booze.” @publicrelations, Shelle Michaels, Teacher and volunteer, http://www.theladiesofliberty.blogspot.com/.
“As an employer, I ask not just “can they do this job” but “how will they represent me?” That is where soc.media can hurt you. Not appropriate: The last keg party you attended, your tailgate streak, photos of your new tattoo.” @JMegonigal, Jordana Megonigal, http://www.insideblackbox.com/?cat=10.