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Your Status Update Could Get You Rejected From Harvard

This article was written by in Career and Work, Education. 6 comments.


If you’re on Facebook, you might have seen the latest hoax. Hoaxes like these allow me to feel confident about my decision not to install any applications on Facebook or participate in any shady-looking groups. I ignore the endless petitions and attempts to find 1,000,000 fans for the latest trend. The latest hoax invites people to “like” a page that promises to reveal a hidden status update that got a high school student rejected from Harvard.

This is a hoax because the offending status update is not revealed when “liking” the page; instead, the visitor will be presented with survey spam. But there is truth behind the status update, or at least a reasonable thought. Perhaps this Facebook user’s comment denigrating Harvard didn’t get him rejected, but your public presence on the internet plays a big role when it comes to admissions as well as job applications.

College admissions offices certainly have better things to do than check thousands of Facebook profiles, MySpace pages, and Twitter updates to evaluate each applicant’s suitability. They don’t have to, however. Admissions offices and marketing teams will certainly monitor social networking websites for information posted related to their organization, and if you make yourself visible in a bad way, you can be certain you will attract some attention.

Last year, a new Cisco hire posted on Twitter a hint that she might hate the work, and a Cisco employee found the tweet and a sensation ensued.

Leaving a public record of thoughtless remarks is only one way to make yourself seem less qualified than your peers. You should evaluate your total online presence and control as much of it as possible. If you want to be taken seriously, make sure your Facebook profile doesn’t give the impression that you’re playing online games 24 hours a day.

If you are a strong final candidate for a job, you can be sure that the evaluation process at that level will include full online research. All other things being equal, if you appear less professional than the other final candidate, you will most likely lose.

Enter your name in Google’s search page and take a look at the results from an employer’s or a college’s perspective. If there’s anything unprofessional, change what you can.

Photo credit: jaycameron

Published or updated April 25, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Smithee ♦1,358 (Quarter)

I had a friend in 2000 who got fired for writing on his blog about how his company was dumb for not wanting to use Paint Shop Pro. Honestly, I think they were just looking for an excuse to fire him, but they found one. Since then, I’ve been very careful about saying the name of the place I work online.

Alternately, if you don’t like where you are in life, seek out better opportunities, so that you have something positive to tweet about.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,550 (Platinum)

That’s a great point… once you get the job, you always represent your employer, even online. That’s a big reason I not only remain anonymous but only talk about my job in abstract terms. If I used my real name on Consumerism Commentary, well, Consumerism Commentary wouldn’t exist. In terms of college, once you’re in, I don’t think they’ll expell you for posting a disparaging blog article, but it could still damage your career later on.

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avatar Eric

And this is why I have strict rules when I use online social networking.

It’s really a double edged sword these days.

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avatar Beth

I always “love” the tips that tell you to google your name. I have a very common name, so anyone looking for me would come up with too much information to manage. I don’t have public search for my Facebook account (friends of friends can find me, but that’s as far as I go). It worries me that someone looking for me there will find hundreds of other people with my name who are doing questionable stuff.

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avatar tigernicole86 ♦55 (Newbie)

I found out I have a somewhat common name although the age ranges are quite different. A lot of the people who work for my company are pretty internet savvy(being that a lot of the people who don’t work in the call center/management side are rather young 24-35) and have actually caught something that seemed a little duplicitous.

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avatar Cejay ♦1,521 (Half-Dollar)

I have removed anything about my job from my Facebook page. I also make sure that I rarely mention anything about my job and especially any deroratory. Wish I could get some people in the office to listen to me since they seem to talk about their parties and getting drunk.

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