Your Online Persona Can Help or Hinder College and Work Prospects
Imagine this: You've spent your high school years taking the most challenging course work offered, juggling multiple extracurricular activities and preparing for and excelling in your SAT's − all with the hopes of getting into your dream college. But ultimately you are denied entry for something you had never considered would become a factor: the content posted on your social networking profile.
This can and does happen. Colleges and universities are turning to social networking sites to learn more about their applicants. A recent survey conducted by Kaplan of 320 admissions officers from the nation's top colleges and universities revealed that one out of ten had used an applicant's social networking site in making the admissions decision. The survey found the social networking site could either benefit or harm the applicant.
? 25% of those who reported viewing applicants' sites said that these viewings had a positive impact on their evaluation; while,
? 38% reported that the applicants' social networking sites had a negative impact on their admissions evaluation.
(Read more about the study in the Kaplan press release.)
Content that had negative impact on the admissions decision included party pictures, underage drinking, reckless behavior, and fighting.
Online Reputation and Your Job
Online reputation isn't just impacting college-bound students. It has an impact on adults in the job market as well, and could play a role in whether you are hired or fired.
A nationwide survey of 3,100 employers recently released by CareerBuilder found 22 percent of hiring managers polled use social networking sites to research potential job candidates and nine percent said they were planning to start.
Thirty-four percent of the hiring managers who researched job candidates via social networking sites found information that caused them to dismiss the candidate from consideration. Reasons included:
• 41% - candidate posted something about drinking or using drugs
• 40% - candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information
• 29% - candidate had poor communication skills
• 28% - candidate "bad-mouthed" their previous company or fellow employee
• 27% - candidate lied about qualifications
• 22% - candidate used discriminatory remarks related to race, gender, religion, etc.
• 22% - candidate's screen name was unprofessional
• 21% - candidate was linked to criminal behavior
• 19% - candidate shared confidential information from previous employers
On the positive side, 24 percent of the hiring managers found information that gave the job candidate an edge over other applicants. Information included:
• 48% - candidate's background supported their qualifications for the job
• 43% - candidate had great communication skills
• 40% - candidate was a good fit for the company's culture
• 36% - candidate's site conveyed a professional image
• 31% - candidate had great references posted about them by others
• 30% - candidate showed a wide range of interests
• 29% - candidate received awards and accolades
• 24% - candidate's profile was creative
(For more on this study, see the CareerBuilder press release.)
In other situations, employees have been fired over content on their social networking profiles.
Remember, there is no guarantee the content you post on the Internet will remain private or available to only your friends. Before you post, ask yourself what would happen if your teacher, coach, college admissions officer, potential employer or employer viewed the content. If the answer is that the content could have a negative impact, don't post it.
Talk about it!
What do you think about admissions officers and hiring managers using social sites to take a glimpse at your personal life, and then using that snapshot to make a professional decision about you? Has this happened to you or someone you know? Post comments to share your opinion or tell us about your experience.
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