Students

Colleges are Considering Using Social Media Background Checks in Admissions

Is Your High-Schooler Sabotaging His or Her Future?

Social media has changed many industries and lives. The paradigm shift has been so invasive, the very fabric of society and business has been affected. Some of those affects include:

  • Advertising losing billions of dollars in ad revenue.
  • Companies contending with a public who can speak to each other about brand experiences, forcing them to be more customer centric.
  • The US Post Office has lost billions on fewer letters and postcards being mailed.
  • Companies are conducting customer service online.
  • News no longer breaks in the media; it breaks on Twitter.
  • Print newspaper circulation dropping, because people consume news in social media.
  • Companies have relegated the résumé to second tier, replacing it with social-media background checks.

teachthought.comAnd now, universities are considering doing the same, according to TeachThought.com. Are students sabotaging themselves before they’ve even begun their adult lives?

Social Media Produces a more Accurate Dossier About You

Law enforcement, lovers, corporate recruiters and human-resources departments have figured out that people, when hiding behind the assumed veil of anonymity in social media, are more likely to express who they truly are. The people they connect to, what they share and how they comment reflects the character of an individual. The false safety of a password and a network makes them adventurous to their own detriment!

If students would stop and think, they would realize they have a tool that can catapult their careers before college, and position them as up-and-coming thought leaders while IN college, to avoid unemployment at graduation. However, many teens and young adults are more interested in impressing their peers by being cool and daring, with no thought of future repercussions.

So what are some do’s and don’ts? Let’s take a look.

Social-Media Don’ts

So what should you avoid? And if you’ve done these, you will want to clean up your social-media footprint (every network you’ve posted too) before applying for a university or a job. Let’s take a look at a few.

Frivolous Photos full of Folly

Your friends may find it cool to see you drunk or dressed scantily, but to a prospective employer or university, it says you lack judgement and self-respect. Which person who respects him- or herself would allow themselves to be seen in that condition? Moreover, if you represent an organization, what does it say about the organization? Therefore, you are seen as a liability and not an asset. You want to remove those.

Angry Comments or Offensive Jokes

racy photoThere’s nothing more dangerous than an angry person with a keyboard or smartphone. When angry, write your message in a word processor, save it and walk away. Come back later with a cooler head and reread it before you post. The same for silly offensive jokes. When you first see it and you are guffawing, you immediately want to share it! If the joke is racial, sexual, political or religious based, best not to share it. You never know who the decision maker is, his or her political or sexual persuasion, their faith, etc. Now don’t get me wrong, if you wish to post about your faith in a meaningful way, more power to you! I do it all the time on my social-media accounts. I speak about jokes, which leaves interpretation to the viewer or reader.

Racy Videos and Music

YouTube has made many believe they are a television station, producing material meant to shock. The more they push the edge, the more views they get, the higher the revenue-sharing check from YouTube (yes, people get paid by YouTube for the advertising on their video page). You may think that Prince’s Erotic City is a great song, but the lyrics are X-rated and explicit. Therefore, ask yourself, would you show that video to your pastor, boss or younger sibling? If the answer is “no,” don’t share it.

You will want to delete any of these posts from the individual networks, but that’s not enough. Google still has them indexed; hence it can still be found. So after you’ve removed it from the original source, go to Remove Information from Google and remove it from Google’s servers. You will need to sign in with your G-mail or Google-Plus account to be able to remove it.

Social-Media Do’s

Okay, now that you’ve cleaned up your act (pun intended), it’s time to use social media as a résumé enhancer. Your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Google-Plus and LinkedIn accounts (or any combination thereof) are your skills and thought portfolio. What you should be doing is as follows.

Share Sporting and Club Events

Do you belong to a club or athletic team at school? Share videos, photos and stories about sporting events, club activities and school theater events. It shows you’re a team player and active in your organizations activities.

Share Student Government Activities

Are you involved in school government? Share information, photos and videos of student-body activities. It shows you are a leader.

Share Your Volunteer Hours

volunteersIn order to qualify for scholarships, students need to do volunteer hours. This is a marvelous opportunity to show the world how you give back, what’s important to you and your character. Taking pictures, making videos and writing a blog about what you did each volunteer day is worth $1,000 of dollars in prospective scholarships and employment. I say employment, because not only will you seek internships in college, but it will build a long-standing history of your social responsibility.

Share Your Opinion in a Blog or Video

I mentioned above blogs and videos of volunteering. You can take it one step further by creating your own website and blog, and being consistent in posting your experiences and perspective. Your perspective is what will be the MOST important, as it reflects how you think. Universities and employers look for leaders. If you show you don’t follow the crowd, but rather critically think things through and have valuable opinions to offer, you will be so far ahead of the game.

Add Value and Substance to the Conversation

Your blog isn’t the only place to speak out, but also as you engage others in social media. For instance, every network has groups (on Twitter, they’re called lists) for specific interests. If your goal is a specific degree, then you should join groups about your career choice. If you have passionate hobbies; join groups about those as well. Not only will you gain nuggets of wisdom from professionals, you will network with them. Done properly, by the time you are graduating, you will have a rich asset of connections.

When you see a post about something you can speak to with substance, add your comments. Don’t just comment to comment; only speak when you have value to add to the conversation. Why? Group members will see that when you speak, value comes out; therefore, when you share, they will want to read what you wrote. This is worth it’s digital weight in gold!

Think with the End Game in Mind

High school is a short four years. In retrospect that is 15% of the remainder of your life. If you want the remaining 85% to be good, then invest the time know to lay a foundation that will pay dividends for years to come.

One place to start is have your high-schooler or college student sign up for our FREE Student’s Resources Area. This is also for adults in transition. Here I share articles, tips and resources that will help them take the necessary steps in setting up a digital presence that will serve them well.

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Eddie Velez

CEO and Founder at Success by Design
Eddie Velez is a marketing professional, designer and author. He has contributed to many portals like "Media Connections," "The 5 Minute Business Mind" and others. He has also contributed the chapter on the Internet and Websites for "Secrets of Successful Inventing: Sixteen Experts Spill the Beans." Eddie writes on many topics and has been a ghost writer and editor for authors and consultants. If you want Eddie Velez to contribute to your business content, portal or blog, contact him to discuss your particular needs.
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