We’ve always been told to be careful what we put online, be careful who sees it. Don’t post anything you might regret. But if you’ve spent your middle school years on social media, you know as well as I do that there’s at least something you regret out there in cyberspace. But that’s the small stuff—what about the larger things? The photos from Otis? Your drunken political rants? The slightly offensive meme you shared with your friend? When everyone’s leaving a trail on cyberspace, it’s hard not to wonder how much it’s going to affect your future.
As of April 2016, sixty percent of employers admitted to looking on social media sites to research job candidates. But most employers aren’t looking for reasons not to hire you — they’re just looking to find out more.
Cathy Resmer, the Associate Publisher of Seven Days, says, “You can tell a lot from someone’s social media. When I’m looking, I’m not looking for embarrassing pictures or whether they went to a party last night…I’m looking to see if they can use the platform they’re on effectively and appropriately.”
Often, employers are using social media as a sort of “expanded resume” to get to know the applicant beyond a simple piece of paper. In a sense, social media is changing the way that employers view applicant pools and revolutionizing the hiring process. Resmer agreed, stating that she was impressed “with someone who uses social media in a way that shows they’re smart, funny, and creative.”
As Scout Fischman, a Broadcast Media student at Champlain College, explained, “I think you can judge someone’s character on their social media. There’s a fine line between being funny and relevant and being vulgar and inappropriate.”
When you reach that line of being vulgar and inappropriate, it’s likely that your future employers will see it. That’s why Xavier Berry, a programming student at Champlain known to his Facebook friends as “Paco Berry”, changed his first name on Facebook.
He changed it after he began applying for the RA position and his current RA told him, “Xavier, you’re never gonna get a job with your Facebook lookin’ like that.” And “Paco’s” Facebook is sort of a clusterfuck. It’s made up of mostly shares, well over ten a day. Some are just cute animal photos, but some are more open to interpretation, like this one. Xavier isn’t shy about sharing his political views on Facebook either — he’s just his authentic self.
However, he did have some trouble when he was looking for jobs over the summer. He applied to an internship at Deerfox games, and they responded by saying that they were looking for an intern to “help manage their social media” and that his media presence made it “difficult to consider him”.
“It was during the time of the Jihad memes,” Xavier explained, “you know, the Allah Akbar one? Yeah, I was retweeting all that shit.”
Xavier’s focus is in programming and design, so while he might not have found his niche at Deerfox anyway, the company seemed to think his current online persona would cause problems for him in the future, since they sent him additional advice and suggested that he use a separate Twitter for business endeavors.
However, Xavier’s boss at Pac Sun follows him on Twitter and retweets him all the time. Xavier also works at Game Stop and one time one of his friends came into the store and asked if “Paco” was there. Xavier’s boss was confused and was shown the Facebook.
“He doesn’t care,” Xavier explained, noting that his boss at Game Stop had found his Facebook to be more amusing than offensive. “It’s fucking funny.”
It’s one thing to be turned away by a company, but if you’re turned away by a company for just expressing yourself and posting content relevant to who you are, you have to wonder if those are the kinds of jobs that millennials are going to bother with.
“A lot of stuff adults have told us is not appropriate on social media and will get us in trouble is what we actually want to be doing,” Fischman said. She helps manage Chivomengro’s social media accounts and wants to do things like that in her future careers, so this topic is extremely relevant to her.
“I get pretty good results on Twitter,” she continued, “so when an adult is like, “That’s gonna lose you a career” but I don’t care, I put a lot of work into [my Twitter] and I feel proud of that.”
In such a competitive job market, it is important to have a presence. Two in five employers say that they are less likely to interview someone if they can’t find information about them online. And 90% of Millennials are using smart phones. 93% are accessing the internet. 53% own tablets…Millennials basically run the world of social media, they’ve grown up in it, and it’s arguable that they know it better than most adults.
“Since social media has started to play such a huge role, every company has social media, so it’s just a good idea for companies to be hiring experienced millennials, cause there’s no other way to do it,” said Fischman.