cyber 4If a party happens but there’s no record of it happening on Facebook, was it really a party?

In our teenage years popularity is social capital and most of us are greedy, pouting buggers. There’s no need to pretend we don’t care about how we’re portrayed, or portray ourselves, on Facebook. It’s perfectly normal to want to ‘build your brand’ as someone in marketing would say.

But something you might not have had to think about yet is how a future employer would react to the version of yourself projected on social media.

It’s common knowledge employers scan their prospective employee’s social media accounts and do a general Google search before they sign off on a contract, decide whether you fit in with the organisation’s culture or even invite you to an interview. Scary stuff.

Those hilarious photos or references to drunken behavior, illicit substance use and downright idiotic behavior may seem funny and prompt a great response online at the moment, but the implications could be career making or breaking.

Those throwaway lines have a habit of throwing themselves back in your face. Because incase you’ve been living under a rock, not only is it distasteful to make sexist, racist or homophobic marks, it’s serious no-go if you ever want to be hired by most reasonable people or organizations.

Yes, it seems like an invasion of your privacy. But it’s the reality of our world and you only do yourself a disservice if years of experience or education are rendered void because you once uploaded something questionable to Instagram.

cyber 5

Think twice before posting or passing on:

  • Drunken photos of you hanging over a toilet bowl. It might have been tres hilar at the time but most people won’t see it that way.
  • References to illicit substance use.
  • Any thing illegal, including pictures of your underage self drinking/smoking
  • Excessive crude language. We all fall prey to the occasional crude joke but there’s a point when ‘bad’ language becomes offensive.
  • Provocative or suggestive pictures of yourself or others. We can be as ideologically in favor self expression and sexuality but it doesn’t mean employers won’t cross you off a list if they come across something they don’t like.
  • Naked images of anyone, particularly under age people as this is considered child pornography and can carry a jail sentence or land you on the sex offenders list for life.
  • Political or religious views you know won’t go down well with employers in your field
  • Disparaging remarks about an employer
  • Any questionable material, particularly if it’s meant to stay confidential. Basically, don’t tweet when you meant to DM.
  • Plans to ‘chuck a sickie’ when you’re not actually sick
  • Too many whiny or negative updates, as studies show employers are looking for positive productive people who will get the job done rather than sit around and complain about it.

Double check:

  • Tagged photos on Facebook. You can do this by clicking onto your tagged photo album and selecting the untag option that appears on the right hand corner when you hover on the photo. While you’re at it, enable request tag under settings/timeline and tagging settings.
  • Friend’s comments on your wall or photos that could make someone wonder about the kind of company you keep
  • The groups you’ve ‘liked’ over the years. Remember that time in year eight when you were rushing to like all the witty pages you could kind? Chances are at least one of them is offensive
  • Unnecessary or embarrassing Apps you access through social media
  • Your privacy settings. Employers have ways of seeing your profiles anyway but why not make it harder to find personal info?
  • Review your profile as any member of the public or your friends by going to settings/timeline and tagging/review what other people see on your timeline.
  • Old status’ for any of the above. It’s boring as hell but you could always make an afternoon of it reminiscing with friends about cryptic references to crushes and ‘in English soooooo boring!!!!!?!!’ check ins.

It’s easy to argue most of these measures are drastic, unfair and breech a right to privacy. But we have no choice but to play by these rules for the time being.

After all, if you ever want to be in position to change those – or any – rules you’ve got to get experience. And that means getting the job, first.

– Rachael Ward

– photos by Cameron Wisth


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