Mummy Buzz


Social Media: A Cautionary Tale

TMI for Employers, Admissions Officers

Watch what you tweet should be the mantra of today’s young people. And Laura Gonzalez certainly does. She’s a rarity among her peers, if only for her discretion. After all, more and more employers are on social media site, too, scouting for the dirty on prospective recruits.

So you won’t catch Gonzalez 'statusing' about her wild weekend or her latest breakup any time soon.

"Facebook has become more of a branding tool more than anything else," said Gonzalez, a Wake Forest University senior who regularly shares on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. "Using social media is one way of putting out who you are, what your interests are, and showing how you can benefit the work force. But I always ask myself, 'What would a future employer think of this?'''

And it’s not just employers perusing Facebook, either. Higher education is having a look in, too. Nearly a quarter of admissions officers in the U.S. claim to use Facebook to help evaluate applicants, and 20 percent use Google.

Martha Allman, Wake Forest's Dean of Admissions, claims the process is not just about snooping and playing Big Brother. "Anything negative we find typically confirms other suspicions we have already.”

Because the majority of young people are active on social media sites, Allman has the following advice for managing what she calls their "digital personae:"

  • Be careful what you put online - Don't post anything that you don't want an admissions officer to see.
  • Know your privacy options - Privacy settings can change frequently, especially on Facebook. If you're tagged in a friend's photo, people in both of your networks can now see those. Instagram is even more open; default settings mean anyone can view your photos.
  • Talk to your friends - Set ground rules about what types of status updates, photos and location based service updates you want to be tagged in. Chances are if they're applying to schools, they should think about their own profiles as well.
  • Be yourself - Whether it's an essay, an interview or a Tweet, admissions officers are looking for the real you in all your communications.”

Bottom line (which goes for grown-ups, too): don’t post or share anything on Facebook or Twitter that you wouldn’t want your granny to read.

Ever had a cringe-worthy social media moment? Spill it.