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How Important are my Social Media Accounts?

How important is my social media account? A student asked a version of this question after I mentioned that social media posts can have an affect on future opportunities. So, this week, I am going to discuss some ways that negative or derogatory social media posts can affect future opportunities. This question came up from a discussion between myself and a few students during which I made the comment-“be careful what you place on social media.” The response from a promising young student was an exclamation of how he would be in bad shape if someone were to check his social media page. This surprised me. So, I began to wonder, how many young adults hold this knowledge? Some of you may be aware, but for those who are not, I am going to touch on a few ways that negative posts on your social media accounts can affect future opportunities.

  1. College Admissions: when thinking about college admissions, know that what you place on social media can affect your chances of getting into the college of your dreams. According to a survey by Kaplan Test prep, 40% of the 400 surveyed admissions officers stated that they review social media accounts of prospective students. The reasons varied, but included verifying information on applications, character information, or disciplinary information. The information found on some applicants' social media pages affected admissions opportunities.

  2. Future Employment: know that employers also review student social media accounts to assist with determining if candidates are a good fit for their company or to review how a candidate may represent themselves to the public. If you do not represent yourself in a way that aligns with the company brand, know that it can affect your chances with a particular job. Additionally, in serving on hiring committees or scholarship committees, I have seen the following instances affect individuals' chances for awesome opportunities: verbal or sexually explicit posts, posts about drinking or drug use, negative posts about a current or previous employer, posts that degrade social groups (i.e. racism/sexism, etc.) or individuals, and the list can go on.

  3. Student Conduct: I have watched many students dig a hole for their own demise because they choose to brag about underage drinking online or how they bullied another student, etc. Know these actions say a lot about your character and provide evidence for your student conduct office to bring you in for questions. This could result in a variety of sanctions or dismissal from high school or college.

In sum, when inappropriate behavior is displayed on SM accounts, it can certainly affect future opportunities. Here's a bonus tip for you: sometimes those with whom you are friends can have an impact on how future employers view you. While you cannot control the behavior of others, it is important to be aware of what a good number of your friends or followers express online. If you find, for example, you have a good number of friends who spew sexist remarks, that can easily be associated with your ideals and beliefs. So, you may want to keep an eye on your friends list also.

You don’t have to change who you are for social media, but be mindful of how much you share about yourself on social media. Most importantly, be mindful of how things can affect you in the future. Once a post is out there, its out there. A good tip for posts is to ask yourself “would I be okay with a future employer or recruiter seeing this information?” I hope this helps. Happy social media posting.

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