My coworker Rob recently gave a presentation at a local networking event for New View (West Des Moines Chamber Young Professionals) about how to build your personal brand on social media. This is an extremely important topic for young professionals and especially for recent college graduates. Part of the presentation focused on what not to do on social media sites and how the status updates/photos/rants etc. you are posting on social media can affect whether you get a job or not.
It reminded me of… let’s call her “Sarah”.
One day when I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed (as I do far too often than I care to admit), I noticed an update from Sarah. I don’t know Sarah, in fact I don’t think I’ve even met her in person. Why am I friends with her on Facebook? Because she sent me a friend request and after I thought to myself “Who the heck is Sarah?”, I noticed that we had a few friends in common and I wanted to spare myself of that awkward moment when you deny a friend request and then see that person… in person.
Anyways, her status update looked a little something like this (minus the * symbols):
I proceeded to click on her profile to find out if there were any other witty and insightful status updates that could add some value to my life. I’m not sure what Sarah is like in real life, but her Facebook wall portrays her as one of the most negative, foul-mouthed, whiniest people to walk the Earth. There should definitely be something like this that pops up before you are allowed to view her wall:
I also Googled her name to see what showed up first. It was her Facebook profile. No way! (<— sarcasm). The #1 result out of hundreds of thousands of search results was her Facebook profile, and when you clicked the link it brought you straight to her wall.
I couldn’t help myself, so I commented on her status update about not being able to get a job. Something along the lines of:
“I have a theory on why you might be having trouble getting a job. 1) Your Facebook wall is littered with F-bomb status updates, which is fine I guess, but 2) Your Facebook profile is set to public, meaning anyone can see your profile, even if they aren’t friends with you, and 3) When you Google your name your Facebook profile is the first thing that shows up. The people that are contemplating hiring you might be, and probably are, Googling your name to find out as much as they can about you. Just letting you know.”
She deleted my comment and made an immediate status update of “I wish people would just mind their own f****** business”…. Nice.
Moral of the story: Be aware of what’s out there about you on social media sites. Before you graduate from college and start applying for jobs, do some cleanup on your Facebook profile. Delete or “hide” the pictures of you and your friends beer bonging or streaking or whatever you and your friends do that’s less than appropriate. Delete the status updates with bad language. If you want to be viewed as a professional and as an adult, keep it professional.
A good way to determine whether something is appropriate or not for Facebook or Twitter would be to ask yourself:
“Would I be OK with my grandma reading/seeing this?”
P.S. – If you have never Googled your own name, take a minute to do it now.