By Cherimie Crane Weatherford
Never one accused of being an oracle, often I hesitate prior to parting unsolicited wisdom on the unsuspecting. Having made far too many less-than-stellar decisions, a quiet nod or a quick retreat has served better than lectures on life. However, my inability to hold an unusually heavy tongue reigns victorious in certain situations. Stemming from sincere concern and void of holier-than-thou sentiment, my intent is to say what many share in thought.
Without a doubt, social media has forever changed life as we know it, friendship as we understand it and even self image as we hope it. The once romantic English language has been reduced to acronyms and idiosyncrasy. Privacy has given way to a surge of sharing and sharing and sharing. Having never occurred to previous generations to open the windows of ones life with reckless abandon, social norms are shifting and, in some instances, sinking.
The rays of success have shined sweetly on my little boutique. A mixture of devil-be-damned determination, timing and a heaping helping of hard work have set our small business up for expansion.
As with any small business, the heart of our company is most certainly our staff. Knowing that our staff will need to grow, we often pay close attention to social media as a source for those in search of a job. It isn’t our first stop, not even our most important, but it is a consideration that often sheds light or throws shadows. Again, of the many versions of my name, Oracle has never been included and, just as all small town residents, I too live in a glass house often in need of a good shine.
But after speaking with other small business owners in regard to social media, it gave me impetus to create a short list that may prevent an unintentional dent in an inevitable job search.
1. Family Ties. We all bear the burden of family dynamics or, in some instances, family dynamite. Small businesses know that, just like in a marriage, when you hire a person, you often hire the family — or at least the effects of the family’s behavior. Before posting details of familial discontent, possibly consider it could very well sway an employer. If your mom happens to know no bounds, your brother finds public controversy especially attractive, or your sister simply can’t help but share her impressive array of daily emotions, maybe you should find a way to hide their expressions from your feed. You can’t choose your family, but you can choose what they display on your social media.
2. Love Your Selfie, just in private. Your image often affects the image of the business interested in hiring you. What you do in private is certainly your own business, until you make it public. Small business owners, particularly in a small town, must be immensely aware of the image one portrays. That irresistible selfie in front of the toilet may be best served shared only to your closest friends or those who also share that toilet. Make certain that what you make public wouldn’t make you uncomfortable in tomorrow’s staff meeting. Yes, it is your profile, you’re right, but it can also be your reason for not getting a job.
3. Business Bashing. Every single person has experienced less-than-stellar service, mind-numbing disappointment in products and anger with employees. Numerous times I have found myself wanting to scream from the rooftops my displeasure; however, those rooftops echo. Venting is the American way — it validates emotion, falls on friendly ears and often aids in change — but directing fire-breathing discourse towards specific businesses causes any hiring agent hesitation. What may be momentary emotion could be a lingering dismissal? Vent away, just vent about the facts or the situation, but never the business itself. Passive aggressive social media fighting often wins the author attention, though not always the attention they intended.
4. Sign Language. Poised, polished and poetically articulate, your interview is seamless. Yet, your unusual usage of the English language, hand gestures, and contortion of facial muscles pasted all over your profile is a cause for confusion. If your allegiance lies with any group, association or unusual gathering, possibly posts portraying a particular behavior should be savored among like minds and like minds only.
5. The Morning After. Partaking of the finer things in life is a freedom we all enjoy. Letting our hair down on the weekends often helps to keep us sane. But sharing the aftermath in full detail gives future employers reason to wonder. No employer wants to worry if a wonderful weekend means a call in sick Monday. All-nighters don’t necessarily translate into exceptionally productive days. That photo of your impressive table dancing solo at 4 a.m. may be best viewed by your dance partners, not future employers.
Social media has proven to be a phenomenal tool, an irreplaceable method of communication and a catalyst for change never before seen. I am ever so thankful that it wasn’t as popular when I began my career; thankfully most of my questionable actions were spread only by the volume of my parents reaction and not documented via photos. As if the burden of finding a job weren’t difficult enough, social media has given potential employers all the reason they need to dismiss, and more than enough reason to doubt.
If you will soon be entering the job market, take extra precaution in the image you portray. Question every post, every photo and every irresistible melodramatic anonymous quote. There is nothing private on social media, or it wouldn’t be social.