Think twice about pressing send
By Bob Satnan Contributing Columnist
You never know when “life” and “lessons” will intersect to provide some clarity on the impact of decisions.
Along with my communications duties for the Sedalia 200 school district, I also teach personal finance at Smith-Cotton High School. Earlier in the week, I spent part of my class lecture on job interviews, discussing “social media footprint” and the fact that employers will look at your online posting history when considering whether to hire you. Jacquelyn Smith, writing for Forbes.com, has explained that “sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ allow employers to get a glimpse of who you are outside the confines of a résumé, cover letter, or interview,” adding that “more than a third of all employers utilize these sites in their hiring process.”
Young people are frequently reminded to be careful with their online activity, but typically it centers on personal safety, cyberbullying and protecting their identity and financial information. But also important is being mindful of how your posts, videos, status updates and tweets come across to those who are considering whether to add you to their team and have you represent their company.
I shared one of my favorite pieces of advice on this topic, which comes from former NFL player and coach Herman Edwards. He has been a presenter at the National Football League Players Association’s rookie symposium, where he talks about the impact of outrageous or inflammatory comments made online. Edwards’ motto is simple: “Don’t Press Send!” He says that when people are tempted to blast out a comment, it is OK if they punch it into their phone, but when they get ready to unleash it — “Don’t press send!” You can never get that back, and even if you delete it later, it can come back to haunt you.
During my lecture, I could see some students thinking about what they have put out for all to see.
I returned to the office and prepared to post a district-related item when I came across an infantile screed smearing a good friend who has one of the biggest hearts in our community. The post was loaded with anger, bombast and self-pity. Frankly, it was one of the ugliest things I have seen on Facebook — and that is saying something. And yes, it was about the writer’s now former employer (it was written after she lost her job).
Job loss is difficult and people can get incredibly emotional about it. But turning to social media to burn bridges will lead to you standing on an island with nowhere to turn. In this case, the writer tagged my friend in her post, so all of his friends got the chance to see her tantrum; worse, when a couple of people pointed out this fact and defended my friend, the writer went into overdrive to smear them, as well.
Building and maintaining positive relationships is vital in today’s economy. The best job opportunities are never advertised; instead, they are shared internally and current employees suggest people they know to fill those slots — people who they trust and who they are confident will be positive influences in the workplace.
Matt Youngquist, the president of Career Horizons, was quoted in a piece on npr.org as saying, “At least 70 percent, if not 80 percent, of jobs are not published.” He said young job seekers don’t realize “that the vast majority of hiring is friends and acquaintances hiring other trusted friends and acquaintances.” So you want to leave positive impressions on those you know, as well as those who are trying to get to know you.
Still, sometimes things don’t work out for any number of reasons. When that happens, workers need to rise above their emotions and think about the future.
Writing is a good outlet for frustration and can help a person get their emotions in check. But consider the implications of airing your dirty laundry; typically, it has no negative impact on the subject and it makes the writer look petty, childish and vindictive. So write it if you must, but whatever you do, “Don’t press send.”
This is an expanded version of a post on Satnan’s blog, “Nothing In Particular” (mobigdog.wordpress.com).
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