Don’t be stupid, part III

One of my PR students graduating in a few weeks sent me this note. “I would love if you could tell students to PLEASE make the Twitters/Instagrams private while applying to jobs. I’ve seen smart J school students get rejected based on their social media content that they probably don’t view as a big deal.”

Like what? I asked.

Photos “of a more sexual nature, even in a joking context.” Or retweets that, while possibly funny at the time, could be taken out of context and misinterpreted.

She has reviewed applications for positions in government; she knows what she’s talking about.

I told her that I won’t tell them to make their social media accounts private.

Instead, I’ll tell them “ Don’t be stupid.” That’s what I told my newspaper staff 15 years ago when we started blogging. I said it again when we started tweeting. It essentially means to think about the post, think about the reaction it could cause, and make sure that’s the reaction you want. Don’t be timid, but know what you’re doing.Sarcasm is tough to pull off. Attacks bring clapbacks.

Be smart. It was simple and it worked.

Life comes at you fast. By the time you’re a junior in college, you should be thinking about your life after college. You plan to be a professional in your field, and that’s the public persona you need to adopt. Start a professional Twitter account. Sign up for LinkedIn. Take care with your postings on Instagram.

And then post smart stuff. Link out. Write about what interests you. Follow people who are interesting and in your chosen field. Engage with them.

I’m active on social media. I asked her if I’d get hired by an elected official. She said yes, but not by a Republican. True.