As social media continues to gain popularity, we find that not only does it play a role in our personal lives but it has also begun to integrate itself into our professional lives as well. We connect with potential employers through such outlets as Twitter and LinkedIn, which are often tailored to fit companies’ expectations, but when employers locate our Facebook pages, they tend to find the less professional versions of ourselves. More often than not, we are advised to keep our Facebooks clean and to avoid certain situations so that we can’t be photographed and tagged in them online. After all, employers have been known to base part of their hiring decisions on applicants’ Facebook personas, and it would be a shame if we didn’t get the job because they didn’t like what they saw.
While I agree that we should make wise decisions and be selective about what we choose to share with the world, I hardly think that one’s Facebook page can give an accurate perception of that person’s performance in the workplace. Rather, it gives viewers merely a glimpse of that person’s overall being — and a very limited one at that. For example, a 20-something college student who parties a little much on the weekends might also have a knack for accounting and might work just as hard as he plays. A girl who was photographed doing a keg stand at a party once might be a prodigy within her chosen field of study.
I am not trying to glorify partying — in fact, I’m the girl who stays in some weekends to read for fun — but I don’t think young people should be condemned for making a few impractical choices on their own time. It’s one thing if your questionable social life mixes in with your professional life and you begin to miss work because you’re constantly hung over, but if you can manage to keep both worlds separate, then why shouldn’t you be afforded that right?
These days, we are subject to more criticism – online and off – than ever before. (Tweet this!) In the past, employers did not have the same kind of access to information about their employees’ personal lives, but now many college students are scrutinized for — in essence — being young and stupid. No other generation has experienced this quite the way ours has.
I understand why employers take advantage of the social media that surrounds them, but sometimes I wonder if this is any better than judging a book by its cover. Ultimately, we need to be careful about what we display online for the world to see, but we should do this out of self respect, not merely fear.
What are your thoughts?