My column this week is about social media and job searching. Sure, it’s a way of reaching out and making connections, but what about when it works the other way and the employer does the searching? Can your social media accounts pass the test?
When it comes to academics, my son Zack is very smart, but when I think about how irresponsible he is about his future it makes me cringe.
Zack graduated with a degree in business, but he’s not prepared to enter the job market.
He was among a pool of kids who were out to find a place for themselves in the working world, and the percentage of his classmates who actually succeeded in landing a position was smaller than we expected.
After a close friend of the family intervened and got him the lead, he had a very promising interview with a financial firm. Zack didn’t get the position. We found out later that it wasn’t because his marks were inadequate – in fact, his grades were excellent – or because he didn’t interview well, but because the employer went to Zack’s Twitter account and saw tweet after tweet about partying, accompanied by Instagram photos of Zack and his friends holding beers in the air and horsing around.
The interviewer told our friend off the record to tell this young man to clean up his social media accounts.
“Sure everyone in university parties, but not everyone is stupid enough to share it with the world in cyberspace,” is what our friend was told.
The job was offered to someone with the same qualifications who didn’t advertise his social indiscretions.
Zack maintains it had nothing to do with that. “Everybody has photos like that,” was the answer I got when I confronted him.
There’s no talking to him. He knows it all. On top of that, do you think he learned anything from this experience? Zack continues to enjoy his young adult years with his friends and share his experiences on social media sites.
He comes home at all hours, then sleeps in late, and when I ask him how the job hunt is going, he tells me he’s doing his best.
I’m frustrated and angry, but what can I do? He’s too old and won’t listen to his mommy any longer.
Dangers of Social Media
Dear Dangers of Social Media
Social media can be a very powerful tool in the job market. In Zack’s case, if he’s truly serious about his job hunt, he needs to learn how to use social media to help him along, not ruin his chances.
When he posts a status update, he’s not thinking about his future, he’s connecting with his friends. His inability to understand the consequences shows Zack’s lack of maturity and priorities.
At this stage in his life, Zack should be examining every word he shares with the world. Social media sites give a false sense of anonymity, but social media is anything but anonymous.
It’s all about networking smartly. What greater way is there to reach firms and people who have a presence on Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter?
Zack may have a degree, but he hasn’t shown a serious interest in finding a job. For starters, his interview was set up by a friend. Has he set up anything on his own? Has he had any other bites other than the arranged one? If Zack were serious, he wouldn’t let his Facebook and Twitter photos stand in his way of finding work. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water…
Employers want the complete package. There are plenty of excellent candidates to choose from. Besides looking for someone who is qualified, they look for a person who is well-rounded, well-spoken, passionate, bright (with common sense) and can think outside the box.
Perhaps Zack isn’t hungry enough. You may have to look at his current living situation to see how comfortable you’re making things for him. I’m sure Zack will come into his own, but in the meantime, you don’t have to do his laundry and put three squares on the table every day.
When he begins to see his friends moving on, it will light a fire under him. He’s an adult, and other than controlling his immediate environment in your home, you have little say in what he chooses to do with his life. You’ve done your best. Now take a back seat and let all the work you’ve put into your son have a chance to flourish.