Your next job interview (via social media) started yesterday

By: Scott Sidway

Everyone has heard the term “digital footprint” by now. Heck, the concept is even being taught as early as middle school now.

Courtesy of: digitalfamilysummit.com

But as a 27-year old (28 in just over a month) student that is going back to college for a second time that interacts with students between the ages of 18-22 regularly, I am starting to believe that many do not quite understand how impactful and long-lasting a digital footprint can be.

Think of it this way – when you walk in the sand or snow, your footprint sticks around for however long it takes for the next batch of snow or sand to cover it up.

Your digital footprint is more like walking through wet cement. That mark STAYS there for a long, long time (if not forever).

Because of the evolution of social media sites and how available they are to the younger generation, we are entering a world where more and more potential job-seekers will be more heavily scrutinized for old social media posts than ever before. Think about your personality and mindset as a 6th grader. Now pretend that sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and others at your disposal to flaunt your personality, air your dirty laundry, share your shenanigans with your friends, etc.

Maybe some of you that are reading this actually did have access to those sites in 6th grade. But whether you did use social media at that young of an age or not, it needs to be known that employers, now more than ever before, are using sites like Facebook and Twitter to judge whether or not a potential employee would be a good cultural fit for the company. According to the link (a blog by social media expert Kim Garst), 37% of employers use social media to make a hiring decision, and nearly 2 out of 3 at least checked social media sites to see if the candidate presented him or herself professionally.

Also in that link are tips on how to prep your “social media resume” prior to ever interviewing for a job, but I’ll let the blogger explain those tips more in depth.

The thing to remember though is that even while you may not be interviewing for a job now, in the next week, month, or any time in the foreseeable future, your digital footprint is still being examined by somebody. That “somebody” could be anyone from a bored friend at school to a headhunter that works for a recruiting firm whose sole purpose is to match candidates to companies.

And wouldn’t it be an absolute shame if someone dismisses your ability to be an effective employee because of a picture, video, or status you posted on Facebook before you even had a driver’s license?

Your job interview is happening right now, whether you know it or not.

University of Florida embracing Snapchat – Should all universities?

By: Scott Sidway

Image courtesy of Victoria Price at Socialprchat.com (from her post “#Highered and Snapchat” http://socialprchat.com/wp-content/uploads/University_of_Florida___uflorida__%E2%80%A2_Instagram_photos_and_videos.png

I will be the first to admit that I have always thought – and still somewhat do – that Snapchat is the biggest waste of social media time and space. I’ve always asked all of my friends that use it the following questions:

1) What’s the point? You can just send pictures through texts.

2) If you really want it to disappear after __ seconds, why are you sending the picture anyway?

3) Do you not trust who you are sending pictures to?

And I usually follow the third question up with “Again, what’s the point?”

But after seeing how companies and now major universities are using Snapchat to further engage with their demographics, or in the case of a university its students, it is starting to make sense.

According to research done by Business Insider, 40% of 18-year olds use Snapchat at least twice a day, which is a higher percentage than those that use your standard phone call multiple times a day. And well, if you look at the demographic that major universities like U of F are trying to target, it makes sense to make Snapchat a focal point of your social media strategy.

Not only will using Snapchat encourage interaction with both current students and potential candidates looking to attend the school, but active engagement with the platform will also give the university a more “cool” and “in tune” persona. If a 17 or 18 year-old is deciding between two or three colleges to attend, it might actually come down to a “which one of these schools fits ME the best” type question.

And if said prospective student is bored one day in his living room fighting the daily struggle of senioritis and happens to browse Snapchat and see the University of Florida engaging students in fun contests and embracing the youth culture, that student may just be convinced enough that Florida “gets him/her.”

I still personally think Snapchat is a waste of time, at least for what I do. I have no use for an app that sends and deletes pictures with the option of text after a few given seconds.

But for big time universities and/or companies looking to reach a demographic that absolutely loves Snapchat? You’d be naive NOT to be embracing snapchat.

After all, no one wants to be THIS gal from the E-surance commercials

Image courtesy of: marketmenot.com

Spell and grammar check: Use it!

(By: Scott Sidway)

I don’t know about you, but whenever I am reading a blog, news story, or any type of post on social media, I immediately cast a judgmental eye upon poor spelling and grammar.

It may seem shallow in the social media sphere we live in (especially considering Twitter’s 140 character limit), but it is a reality that many people immediately shut down when stumbling across a blatant grammar or spelling error in a post. It particularly can affect people when the post is made in a professional setting.

The way I see it, what people read online is nearly the equivalent to what people read in books, newspapers, or magazines in the past. For example, if you picked up the Dallas Morning News or the Denton Record Chronicle and noticed a run-on sentence in one of the first two paragraphs, what would be the likelihood that you’d keep reading?

Credit: Shehemedia

In an era where anyone can post just about anything at the click of a finger, it is more important than ever to be cognizant of how you structure your posts. With ease of posting comes ease of error and carelessness, which could potentially lead to a diminishing audience.

Not only could poor grammar and spelling diminish your personal audience, but it could also diminish the audience for an entity you represent. In an age where so many media members tweet their breaking news through personal accounts as opposed to funneling it through a larger account (IE: AP, CNN, ESPN, etc), sometimes YOUR personal tweet can affect that of the company.

All of this said, I very rarely see professionals in the industry making egregious spelling errors that make me want to cast the judgmental eye I alluded to earlier. But amongst my peers in college that are pursuing a quick job right after they graduate? That’s where I see spelling and grammar treated like something that no one really pays that much attention to.

But in reality, everything you post on social media, no matter the content, can and may be seen by a potential employer someday. So do yourself a favor and make sure that every post that comes out of your IP Address is as pristine as possible.