I’ve written before on this blog about the importance of teaching teens to think before they post. It’s not just important because these profiles (if set to “public”) can be viewed by potential predators, but because they can be viewed by potentially anyone, including employers and recruiters. According to a recent report from business social network Viadeo, “one in five employers finds information about candidates on the Internet, and 59 percent of those said it influences recruitment decisions.”
We’ve established that for many teens and college students, posting inappropriate photos or content online is an impulse decision. They’re not thinking about future employers or recruiters looking at these profiles. It’s all about all of the cool comments they will get from their friends, i.e. validation. They often have to learn this lesson the hard way.
Some teens (and adults) may flinch at the notion that college recruiters or potential employers might use something posted “just for fun” as a justification not to admit or hire someone, but it’s happening. I wrote up some tips about “what not to post” in response to a reporter on this issue and wanted to share them here.
– “Sexy” or provocative photos showing the subject(s) in any state of undress. Not only is this bad for employers, but these pics will attract predators.
– Photos showing the subject(s) drinking or using illegal drugs. This also expands into posting images of pot leaves or favorite liquor ads. Even if teens aren’t drinking or smoking pot, it can give the impression they are.
– Blog entries that reveal too much or overshare. Tell teens to keep this type of online journal private so only they or a friend or two can read it. Potential recruiters or employers don’t need to know about your personal drama.
– Blog entries or photos that show an anti-work ethic – like a big quote saying “Take this job and shove it!” Teens should also never denigrate a current or former employer online.
– Violent or sexually explicit lyrics, songs or videos. Even if it’s just a band or song a teen loves, employers may get the wrong idea.
The upside to having a digital trail online, is that when teens create thoughtful well written blogs or cool portfolios, that can help you, too (I was hired for a position because of Ypulse).
Also, the Ad Council just posted two more PSAs driving this message home. They tend to make the janitor and the guy cleaning up at the mall into creepy predators (maybe they have something against the custodial arts?).