Brooke Burton, Joshua Young and Stephen Sleeper, Mountaineer News Service, West Virginia University
May 10, 2013
Brett Phillips knows the hazards of social media all too well. A few years ago, he was fired as a residential assistant for WVUs honors dorm after being tagged on Facebook photos showing him partying with students from his dorm. Yet there was no alcohol, drugs or inappropriate behavior in the photos.
[The photos] were just a lot of people solidifying memories in film, says Phillips. Being fired was the last thing I expected after a fun night with my students, he adds.
Phillips is one of an increasing number of people whose use of social media has gotten them into trouble with current or prospective employers. Indeed, 69 percent of employers surveyed in a recent study say they have rejected a job candidate because of something they saw on the candidates social network.
Reppler, the social media monitoring service which conducted the survey, found that employers often rejected candidates because they had posted inappropriate photos or comments about drinking or using drugs, lying about their qualifications, or simply demonstrating poor communication skills.
An employer just doesnt want a bunch of pictures of you circulating that shows you being very unprofessional, says Rachel Holmberg, a counselor at the WVU Career Services who works closely with graduating students. A few pictures that are not very representative of you become representative because when they do a search, thats all they can find.
However, the use of social media can also benefit job hunters if done right. According to Reppler, 68 percent of employers have hired someone because of positive things they saw on potential employees social media accounts. Holmberg says 15 percent of job applicants got their job by simply filling out an application and submitting a resume. The other 85 percent knew somebody within the company.
Social media is great because it allows you to keep in touch with a lot of different people, people not necessarily close to you that you can touch bases with frequently, Holmberg says.
Amy Lockhart used Facebook to promote her cake-baking skills. Her use of social media helped her land her current job as head baker for Naticakes in Bridgeport.
I posted [my cakes] on Facebook and it just spread from there. More people kept asking me to do cakes for them, says Lockhart. Its good to post your talents on social media because it makes people interested and you never know what can come from that.
Jeffrey Ray, known by friends as Yofray, is the creator and filmmaker of the popular Im Shmacked series that films universities across America. The series is known for its wild college parties. Some students are concerned about how the videos might affect their future. For example, Amanda Keshner, a junior at WVU, says she was filmed by Yofray, but the footage with her in it wasnt released in the final video of WVU by Im Shmacked.
If I was in the Im Shmacked video, it could potentially jeopardize my future and all that I worked for at WVU, Keshner says.
However, other students note that most people on these videos are hard to identify because there is no name-tagging feature.
Holmberg says social networks provide employers with a good first-round elimination of job applicants, so she encourages students to create some privacy on their Facebook and Twitter sites as they approach graduation. For instance, students can use their privacy settings on Facebook to customize who can see their posts or who can contact them. One feature lets users review all posts about them before it will show up on their page.
A lot of people go through a clean-up phase, where they go ahead and they make accounts private that they havent made private before, Holmberg says. You dont want to say anything you wouldnt want someone to see. Its not just about your posts; its about everyones posts.
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