By CHRISTINA WILBUR
Social media can be the deciding factor of whether a college student gets hired for that perfect job or is passed over.
That being said, society today is highly involved with social media and Internet use. Employers can simply Google an applicant’s name before an interview, and the opportunity could be lost before they have even had the chance to speak with the company.
Marcie Ostiguy has been the director of the Primrose School at Brookstone in Acworth, Ga., for five years. She recently had an experience with an employee who misused their social media accounts. When she first interviewed the applicant, she was impressed by her confidence and her expressed desire to work with children.
“They were well spoken, well dressed, and had impeccable references,” Ostiguy said.
Ostiguy hired the applicant based on their wonderful interview. It was only later that the misuse of their social media networks was brought to management’s attention.
“Our school, like many other professional facilities, has a social media policy that all employees sign,” Ostiguy said. “The purpose of the policy is to remove any gray area in what is acceptable behavior and what is means for immediate termination.”
The items that the former employee posted were on Instagram and Twitter, which are two very popular websites that are used by tons of college students. Ostiguy said the posts that were displayed showed a lack of good judgment, self-respect, professionalism, and disregard for the importance of the role she had been hired for; a care taker of children and their wellbeing.
“If the posts had been viewed by families of the children in our care, by anyone looking into our school for care, or by competitors, the reputation of our school could have been jaded,” Ostiguy said. “In doing so, jeopardizing the livelihood of many families and the Primrose brand. Her moral compass was skewed.”
It was for these reasons that the employee was called into the office and terminated.
While social media and the Internet can be a college student’s worst enemy when it comes to finding or keeping a job, it can also be very helpful. Dr. Amber Hutchins is the director of the Public Relations Program at Kennesaw State University, started the first class for social media and strategic communication, and presents on that topic at national and international academic and professional conferences.
“It is essential that you monitor your online reputation,” said Hutchins. “There’s so many opportunities to be proactive and establish a credible and thriving online portfolio that can help make you competitive in the marketplace.”
Hutchins said that the majority of what we post online could be accessible to employers whenever they feel so inclined to look for it. That being said, students can prioritize the good information over the bad. Focusing on creating professional information that can turn up in search results is a positive way to go about preparing an online portfolio.
“Most employers will Google you,” Hutchins said. “You will basically be subjected to a digital interview before you ever walk in the room for an actual interview.”
So in the end, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be used for more than just posting pictures of a large Starbucks coffee or liking a relationship status. A bad online reputation can make landing a job, or keeping one, difficult. When entering the business world, graduating college, or even looking for a job, these websites can be used to better the chances of nailing the interview before coming face to face with the employer. Other websites, such as