Consider the following scenario...
You have a fantastic student... they have the academic ability, have all the "soft skills" and leadership potential that would make them a credit to any organisation that they might want to work for; but all of their prospects and opportunities disappear just like that, with one wrong step, a single mis-judgement, a silly ill conceived mistake.
What kind of mistake? Criminal activity? Something involving sex, drugs and/or rock'n'roll? Nope, what I'm talking about involves a keyboard and an internet connection - students' digital footprint.
If you've nothing nice to say...
The best advice that you will find regarding the use of Social Media is probably the same as offline - If you've nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all!
"The interview used to be the first chance to see a candidate's true colors but now, looking at someone's digital footprint allows recruiters to sift through applicants even earlier"
Just ask Andrea Wallace or Paris Brown about the consequences of this. Andrea Wallace decided to have a 2 minute rant on You Tube about "Asians in the library," the consequences of this post involved leaving Uni and death threats - Andrea Wallace Apology letter
Paris Brown was employed as Britain's first youth police commissioner, but came under fire for racist and homophibic comments on social media before she was offered this job - Paris Brown Apologizes for racist Tweets
I think it's fair to say that Social Media is so new that education has not quite got a "handle on it" yet. We have some schools who have their kindergarden students Tweeting and blogging about their day; while other schools & colleges may still block a lot of sites.
Given the disparity of views on education regarding social media policy and practices, ever wonder;
- Whose students will be more in demand in the brave new economy?
- Which members of staff will be more able to guide/advise students through the minefield that is social media? Will it be "connected educators" who Tweet, blog, post etc or those who don't?
Regardless of what you're policy is, it is important to highlight how serious the consequences of students' online activity can be. As well as the examples above, two other videos which are very effective in highlighting the dangers are:
Obviously Amanda Todd's Story is a lot more serious than the issue of students looking for work, and will hopefully encourage young people to think about the kind of content that they post online.
More and more recruiters and universities are assessing candidates based on their digital identity before any interviews. When recruiters are looking for "culture fit" as much as for skills and abilities, will your students' digital footprint help or hinder them in their job search?
Here are some useful infographics highlighting the kind of things that recruiters are looking for;
- How recruiters use social media to screen candidates
- How social media can help you get an internship
- Does every employee need social media training?
What about the consequences of good content?
Suli Breaks might not have gotten the exam result he was looking for, but he did get 1 million views in less than a month... and it looks like he has more options and prospects than many that got the exams results they were hoping for.
Google get something like 1 million unsolicited CV's a year, check out how Mathew Epstein stood out from the crowd to secure an interview, which led to him landing his "dream job" - Google Please Hire Me
It would also appear that your digital footprint is something that you can experiment with and can help you to make an impact even at a young age, just ask 9 year old Caine - Caines Arcade or the kids involved with Pledge Cents
Better Job Prospects
"Based on innovation and inspiration, and it involves connections between and among people... to become an irreplaceable linchpin"
Then not only does Digital Citizenship and responsible use of Social Media look like a pre-requisite, but encouraging students to experiment with producing great content looks like it will be a distinct advantage.
Even if you don't particularly subscribe to these kind of ideas this Social Media Jobs Salary Guide sure does highlight some encouraging employment possibilities.
Regardless of individual schools & colleges stance on social media, students will use this platform at home and, depending on the content, could positively or negatively impact on their job prospects... What's the best policy?
A good start point might be to get students to assess their digital footprint. A useful resource that does this, and could allow students CV's to stand out might be Vizify - How Vizify gives recruiters context for their digital identity
Educators' Reputation - Promote your Class
With social media there is also the school and colleges' brand to consider which SMT and marketing will deal with, but what about the impact of students activity on Social Media impacting educators? Which of these 2 scenarios would you prefer?
"I'm a Socially Responsible Student"
Would it be an idea to create a "Socially Responsible Student" brand where;
1) A Socially Responsible Student charter is established and agreed upon (could involve media, social media experts, education associations, NUS, student unions etc)
2) Students sign up to this charter and are able to put a "Socially Responsible Student" badge on their avatars and SM Profiles
3) A Socially Responsible Website is created with campaigns that students can sign up to and support. Students could highlight the projects and activities that they support on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.
Could such an idea help to improve some of the negative views that some groups have of young people, as well as help students to create a "more employable" digital footprint... help them get their digital foot in the door or prospective employers... instead of running off their digital mouth and, effectively, "putting their digital foot in it?" (Couldn't resist).