Spring Break Can Ruin Job Prospects Spring break.  You know what you are getting into.  Do not lie.  The college ritual that is “spring break” is not a secret to anyone.   Not to you.  Not to the police.  Not to your parents.  Not to your potential employer.

There will be alcohol.  There will large gatherings of people.   There will be promotions “people” trying to get you to do ridiculous things all in the name of brand exposure for their product.

There will be crowded hotel rooms, crowded beaches, crowded clubs, crowded ski slopes, crowded pools.  Finally, there will be people will smartphones…smartphones with cameras and video recorders.

With spring break around the corner, it is time to have a conversation about online reputation.  As you plan out the awesomeness that is spring break, you should keep one thing in mind.  That is….in one silly minute, your dream job can fly right out the window (never to return).

What college students need to understand is that social media can easily destroy an online reputation.  Anything you send or post online remains there.  If you do not believe me, do a “Google” search on your name and see what pops up.  If you think that is bad, do a “Google Image” search on your name.

Horrified? Concerned? Wondering what hobbies the other person with your same name is into?

That will be the same response a potential employer has when they undertake these same searches.

As a college student, you may think that the “real-world” is still a ways away.  If this is your last spring break , you may think that you should be entitled to this “one last blowout”.

I am not going to wrap this discussion around whether or not you are deserving; I will just ask that you keep one thing in mind.

Your online reputation is just as important as your parents’ or any other employed adult’s.  You need to ask yourself if that picture or that post is really that important.  Are the 15 minutes of fame and the hilarious comments that it might generate worth not landing your dream job?

Are those spring break photos something you want everyone to view?  In many cases, “no”.  So before you take off for your trip, make a vow to never immediately post something online.  If you –the next day – still think it is “post worthy”  and will not offend your mother, then it might be worth the effort.

In addition, take a few minutes and review your privacy settings on Facebook and Twitter.  Facebook offers privacy settings for both timeline access and tagging.  However, you also need to be wary of the risk of waking up one morning and finding that a questionable photo has been posted to your wall by a frenemy.  Take a moment to review your privacy settings on tagging.  Who can see what others post to your timeline?  If something is inappropriate, remove it.

There are some other measurable things that you can do to monitor your online reputation

1)       Create a Google Alert for your first and last name.   Think through any and all aliases that you might have used /be using and other similar spellings of your name.

2)       Create a Twilert.  This Twitter app is the “Google” of Twitter.  It enables you to receive regular email alerts of tweets containing any keyword you chose.

3)       Watch what you say.  The Internet (even though you may be accessing it from the privacy of your dorm room) is a public forum.  If you are not willing to stand up in a lecture hall and say it, then do not state it in an Internet chat room.

Spring break is a rite of passage.  No is denying that, but when that rite of passage can hinder any and all forward career progress for the rest of your life…you need to ask yourself “is it worth it”?

NOTE:  A full-color, downloadable PDF is available. 

By Christiane Soto, Snelling.com