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.