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Etiquette for the twenty-first century

By Quasha Ross


Social media has taken off since the launch of MySpace in 2003. We now have several social media outlets to cater to our boredom and curiosity. These networks include the all too popular Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, and tons of others. How does your Facebook profile look? Are there pictures of you having a great night out with friends, holding that infamous red cup?

According to a study conducted in February 2012 by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 37-percent of employers use social media to research job candidates, and 11-percent of employers plan to start using social media to look up potential employees.

Do you know what this means? It means that our online activity has to become a bit more tasteful. It’s easy to forget that online profiles are just a click away and they can be a first impression for an employer who has not had the chance to meet the potential candidate. When we’ve had a hard day at work, we don’t think about the harsh comments we post on Facebook or Twitter about how much we hate our jobs. Once an employer clicks on your profile and sees this, it’s possible that you may no longer be the candidate that fills the job position.

“We want to be sure employers know that under federal labor, they have a right to discuss their wages and working conditions with each other, and to join together to try to improve them,” Nancy Cleeland, director of public affairs at NLRB, told ABC News. “Those rights have existed since the National Labor Relations Act was enacted in 1935.”

“Today we are merely extending those protections to new forms of communication, such as Facebook, but not all work-related social media posts are protected, and some behaviors can cause an employee to lose protection,” Cleeland said. “We compiled these cases to give both employers and employees a better idea of what is protected and permitted.”

An Applebee’s worker faced possible termination after he refused to sign an agreement barring employees from making negative comments about the workplace on Facebook.

At Cisco, which is a corporation that has transformed the way people connect, communicate, and collaborate online, has also had run-ins with social media rants and raves. Cisco withdrew a job offer presented to a potential employee, who posted this on Twitter:

“Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.”

Tim Levad, a channel partner advocate for the Cisco Alert, saw the tweet and assured the tweeter that he would be contacting the hiring manager of Cisco and notifying them of the tactless tweet.

A simple tweet can ruin an entire career. Now, that tweeter is back to square one, filling out job applications all because of a personal opinion posted on a social network.

“I try not to post my personal opinions and feelings about my job online,” Traci Williams, a senior Psychology major said. “Comments that you post online can get back to your job or to certain people, and it can jeopardize your personal life.”

There is one major issue in many of the social media network discussions. Are we the same in person as we are online? Some may argue that we are completely different online and employers should not use online activity to draw conclusions on who we are as potential job candidates.

In opposition to this argument, research shows that most people are honest about their online faces. Studies conducted in the United States and Germany found that social networking sites convey accurate images of the personality profiles we offer.

Another study found that readers of blogs were able to consistently and accurately judge the personalities of those who posted entries without ever meeting them.

These studies support the idea that employers can get the gist of who you are by simply exploring your profile. So who is it that you want future employers, in-laws, or other peers to see? Do you want them to see you intoxicated? Is your profile filled with derogatory language? It’s time that we think before we post. It’s simple. Before you post anything online, think about how it will affect you and the people around you. Remember that your online profile can be your first impression, so from now on make that impression a great one.

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