What Happens On Facebook Stays Well It Goes Everywhere

By Michael Biedenstein | Posted on July 30, 2012

Tags: Operations

Believe it or not, social media is here to stay and more than ever, it has influence well beyond the online world.  In fact, when thinking about your career and profession, it is important to understand the affect that your social media profiles and presence can have.  The NRPA Young Professionals Network has some important tips and reminders for ensuring your social media presence or those of the young professionals on your staff is accurate and professional.

Facebook and Social Media Profiles

Credit Dave Pell at Gizmodo.com.au  

It seems like every week, often every day, there is a news story about someone getting in trouble for what they posted on social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc).  For students and young professionals this can be especially troublesome. That Facebook photo from freshman year or the late Friday night tweet doesn’t disappear. 

In recent news, athletes competing in the 2012 London Olympic Games have been expelled for inappropriate tweets (USA Today Article).  George Zimmerman (charged with murder in the February death of Trayvon Martin) had a particularly damaging seven year old MySpace page resurface that included several racist comments (Yahoo News Article).  Tweets are being recorded by the Library of Congress.  The new “Timeline” format on Facebook is bringing posts and pictures from years ago back to the surface (NY Times Article).  Remember, what is shared by you and about you on social media doesn’t go away.

Most people now (think they) have their privacy settings set to avoid anything embarrassing being exposed.  The fact is: those settings are confusing and constantly changing.  You also never know who will see your profiles while logged in as one of your friends, followers or connections.  Access to personal social media sites and accounts are being subpoenaed in court cases and even required by employers.  The exact legality of these practices isn’t yet known and won’t be for some time until more cases and lawsuits work their way through the courts.

It is quite simple...  If you don’t want something to be public, DO NOT POST IT! 

This includes disparaging comments about employers or coworkers, inappropriate pictures and even bad grammar or misspellings.

An October 2011 article on Mashable highlighted some astounding statistics about how companies are screening job applicants using social media:

  • 91% of companies use social media to screen applicants
  • 69% have rejected a candidate because of what they saw on a social networking site, most commonly because the applicant lied about their qualifications
  • 68% have hired a candidate because of what they saw on a social networking site, most commonly because they got a positive impression of the applicant’s personality and organizational fit

The first two statistics should not be surprising to most people. Most of the buzz around social media are damaging stories about employees losing their job or job offer. The third survey result, however, is actually pretty refreshing. 

Your social media accounts should be an accurate representation of you. You should feel comfortable that employers or potential employers will be left with a positive impression upon seeing these profiles, just as you hope to leave a good impression in a job interview.

Now the important part:

    1. Open a new window in your browser.
    2. Go to Google.
    3. Search yourself.
    4. Do you like what you see (probably several social media profiles)?  If not, log in and address the issue.

Have you ever used social networking sites to screen applicants?  How have you taken precautions to ensure your social media profiles are professional and accurate?    Let us know below in the comments!

Written by: Michael Biedenstein, Recreation Program Coordinator at the City of Eureka, MO