Kids (note that I, in my increasingly crusty way, pretty much mean 'most people under 25') should not be concerned about this*:
According to a survey by Kaplan Test Prep released last week, 40 percent of [college] admissions officers report checking applicants’ social media when they’re weighing decisions about who should get an acceptance letter. That’s four times the percentage who checked in 2008.
About a third of these admissions officials say they’ve Googled an applicant to learn more about them. And those are only the ones who admit it.
...that's small potatoes. No, what these kids should be concerned about is that company hiring officers are going to be doing the exact same thing. And that they can easily do that in a way that nobody's going to ever, ever prove that they're doing. All it takes is a little forethought. "I tossed that resume because we had ten other people who were just as qualified, and I was told ten people." "I tossed that resume because of that typo here, see? Plenty of people who can spell applied for this position." "I tossed that resume because it came on my desk after the deadline and we had a binder full of applicants anyway."
See what I mean? In any system that's based on subjective, snap decision-making you can always come up for a reason to retroactively justify why you threw out a resume. Particularly in a hiring climate like ours, which is 'blessed' with a situation where young people are competing with older, more experienced, less debt-ridden people for the same entry-level jobs. Welcome to Barack Obama's economy, kids. You know that new way of things that Obama built, and that all those passionate Democrats on campus have been talking up? Well, it's time to experience it first-hand!
...Good, and hard.
But I'm a nice guy. I'm here to help. If you're a college junior or below, I can help. You can turn that social media profile around! Just do the following:
- DO NOT MIX SOCIAL MEDIA AND ALCOHOL.
- REMEMBER: YOU ARE NO LONGER THE SMARTEST PERSON IN THE ROOM.
- Delete all social media apps from your smartphone. Why? Because DO NOT MIX SOCIAL MEDIA AND ALCOHOL. Whatever you were going to say, it can wait until you're at home, sober, and in front of your favorite non-portable computer.
- The only people who truly care about you are probably back at home wondering why you only call once a week, if then. And have you considered saving your parents some money by being a commuting student? Room and board is where they REALLY put the screws in when it comes to student loans. Just something to think about, honestly. ...Sorry. Moving along...
- YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE TAGGED IN A PHOTO. Seriously. Just refuse to do that, on general principles.
- Many people think that they can hide online. Out of every hundred or so of those people, one is not delusional. The rest are simply unconsciously counting on the fact that most people will never be seriously challenged on their anonymity. But remember: YOU ARE NO LONGER THE SMARTEST PERSON IN THE ROOM.
- Always assume that whatever you say, write, favorite, or like will eventually be assessed by a cold-blooded, vicious weasel (albeit, one trained in basic search techniques) who opposes you ideologically, and who has an almost criminal indifference to whether or not your life is ruined. And no, not me. I'm one of the nice ones. There are people much worse than me out there.
- If you are a member of, say, the Young Democrats or some PIRG or whatnot, it probably will not be problematical for you to mention that in social media. If you started out last weekend by shaving your head in protest of Monsanto, and ended it by going to jail... yeah. You don't want to brag about it. More accurately, your future self doesn't want you to brag about it. Listen to your future self. He or she had to live through the consequences of your mistakes, after all.
- Your Facebook page is there to let your Aunt Sandy know what you're up to, and to help organizers track you down for your 20th year high school reunion in a decade or so. It is also the absolutely first place that everybody will go to find out information about you. Curate your Facebook page.
- Many people will tell you 'YOLO' (note: I neither know, nor care, whether or not 'YOLO' is still a thing) or insist that you have to proudly let your freak flag fly, or some other statement that's semantically equivalent to 'ignore all of these rules.' Please note that those people are typically personally careful to curate their social media presence, or else they are in situations where being a jackass in public will not actually hurt their ability to find a job. If you're in the same situation - well, you are NOT.
- Yes, I am telling you to eat your vegetables. Yes, I am telling you to not have fun with social media. But yes, I am also telling you that social media is Moloch, and if you do not recognize that particular cultural reference** then you absolutely need to look it up RIGHT NOW because you're a prime candidate to be the 'star' of that particular show.
I hope this helps. Even if you're ideologically opposed to me. Mind you, if you are ideologically opposed to me, and you ignore this, and you get burned... hey. Not my problem, am I right?
*I thought I knew who to H/T on this, but I don't. Image via Shutterstock.
**Allen Ginsberg howled in vain, it would appear.