Monday, January 25, 2016

A Must Read: What Everyone Needs to Know About Social Media

Part One – The Trickle-Down Effect

This is part one of a three part series on social media. Two or three years ago numerous articles, blogs and other informational resources were written including by yours truly, regarding how employers were using social media as a tool in their hiring decisions. 

The use of social media sites for hiring decisions has since grown, and what employers look for has become more sophisticated than just an unprofessional photo.

There has also been a trickle-down effect. Employers are not just looking at what you’ve posted in the last week or month but will even go back to your college and high school days. Remember, what you post on the internet, stays on the internet. The internet is not Las Vegas after all.  It is an open domain for the entire world, literally, to see.

Social media, relatively speaking, is a newer phenomenon.  We are now just really seeing the impact of what was done within social media a few years back on how decisions are being made across the board in using social media today. We should use this in educating youth on both the short and long term impact of choices they make on social media.

When many of us were growing up, a large part of parenting was knowing who your kids were with, where they were at and hoping they were making good choices.  Today parents must be active participants in their children’s social media activities.  You can’t allow kids to “learn from their mistakes” when it comes to socially publishing something. Before social media, a hurtful comment made could be forgotten. Today they don’t disappear.  Worse yet they can be shared, retweeted, etc.

Parents, teachers, counselors and coaches all need to be aware of what is happening on social media. They must be actively monitoring students' accounts.

We’ve been hearing more and more about the importance of student-athletes using social media appropriately. Whether using Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube or other channels, athletes who aspire to collegiate recruitment should remain aware that coaches, assistants, or others in a college program are tracking their recruits' social behavior. With so much at stake in terms of how scholarships are awarded and the risks of recruiting a player who may damage team culture, many collegiate athletic programs even are monitoring the accounts of their recruits' friends.

Social media is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s a fantastic way to engage with others and to stay updated with the latest news and notes of the world. Many athletes use social media to enhance their reputations and show their personalities, which often can be misinterpreted on the field of play.

But it’s extremely dangerous as well, capable of derailing a career before it even starts. There are numerous stories surfacing about the damage it can do to a high school talent. When you put on your school’s uniform, you are now a part of something that is bigger than yourself.  Think before you tweet.

Look, it’s not about the individual student. Sports are about teamwork, and selfishness can occur off the field just as easy as it can on it.

But this is not just limited to the importance of student-athletes using social media appropriately. Colleges are also looking at high school applicants’ social profiles to see if the respective student is the “right fit” for their college or university.

Fast forward, you are out of school. Now when you put on your attire to head to the office, you are part of something that is bigger than yourself.

So what are hiring managers and human resources professionals looking for when it comes to an individual applicant’s social media activity?

  1. Does the candidate present himself or herself professionally?
  2. Is the candidate a good fit for the company culture?
  3. Has the candidate created posts that could be hurtful to others now or at any time?
  4. Is the candidate a good team player or is it all about them?
  5. Learn more about the candidate’s qualifications.
  6. Is the candidate well-rounded?

A third (34%) of employers who use social media in their hiring decisions said they have found content that has caused them not to hire the candidate. About half of those employers said they didn’t offer a job candidate the position because of provocative or inappropriate photos, inappropriate posts, and/or other information posted on his or her profile; while 45% said they chose not to hire someone because of evidence of drinking and/or drug use on his or her social profiles.

Other reasons they decided not to offer the job: the candidate had made posts directed at other students while attending school including online bullying, the candidate’s profile displayed poor communication skills, he or she bad mouthed previous employers, made discriminatory comments related to race, gender, or religion, or lied about qualifications.

The choices made yesterday, today and tomorrow on social media can have real life impact on an individual’s future. As a society we must become more active in better choices when using social media. It all starts with each individual accepting responsibility for actively participating in the education of youth and others you have an influence over.

UP NEXT: Part Two of this series will discuss using social media to positively posture yourself.

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