The Daily Gamecock

Practice discretion when using social media

Recruiters, employers will judge one's online footprint

Grad school and professional career hopefuls, you may want to set all your social media to private. Now more than ever, admission officers, headhunters and recruiters of all sorts are utilizing social media to get the scoop on their candidate’s qualities.

A recent New York Times article told the tale of a Bowdoin College applicant who foolishly broadcasted some disparaging tweets during a college information session. Weeks later, an admissions officer researching the girl’s online footprint stumbled upon the tweets. Ultimately, she was turned down due to inadequate academic records, but had her grades been better, the college said the tweets would have likely resulted in a rejection anyway.

As unfortunate as it may be that our online privacy is nearly nonexistent, who can blame these recruiters for doing their job — even doing it well? These tactics may surprise some, but they shouldn’t. Their job is to find and admit the best candidates, and what better tool than social media, let alone the Internet? After all, there may be no portal into someone’s character as clear as social media.

The relative anonymity of the Internet has allowed people to voice their opinions with no obvious direct consequences and, in turn, imbued some with a false confidence. Many of the scuffles, catfights and infamous Facebook debates that happen online would have never happened in person.

In a similar vein, people are too quick to say something over social media they might regret in person, though that’s not to say their words carry no sincerity over cyberspace. As Oscar Wilde put it, give a man a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
And there you have it, the truth of someone’s character. That’s the hot commodity that these admission officers, headhunters and recruiters are after.

Transcripts and resumes are just the first step in landing a job or admission; It’s the details that lie beyond the paper that they’re really after. While teenagers are synonymous with impulsive decision making, which makes the covert perusing of admission officers a little concerning, that’s just the world we live in today.

To mitigate this, some people are tailoring their social media for the watchful eye of employers and schools. They’ll trade in their Friday night ice luge Twitter picture for a high quality headshot, filter their tweets to convey professionalism and un-tag any remotely controversial Facebook pictures. Some even are changing their searchable names on Facebook.

Others have guidance counselors to help them sanitize their social media accounts. One high school is flat out advising students to delete any alcohol-related posts or photographs and to create socially acceptable email addresses.

While I consider both of these to be no-brainers for those in the hunt for college admission, an internship or job offer, the latter is downright obvious. While this may be an unfair filtration of your personal life, the fact of the matter is that 98 percent of recruiters used social media in 2012.

Or, you could just think twice before posting certain things. While I’m not saying everyone needs to be prudish on social media, it’s probably wise to adapt to the times and acknowledge that your thoughts and photos are far less private than you’d like.

When the persona you present publicly doesn’t add up to the qualifications listed in your resume, something’s got to give, and recruiters know this. Now, more than ever, our character is readily accessible, and in turn, readily judged.