The 2am Tweet telling the world your boyfriend’s a wanker, the not-vague-enough Facebook rant about your boss…just remember times have changed. There’s no way around it. And just like the Hello Kitty tattoo you got when you were 18, some stupid decisions are permanent. In the modern world of constant connectivity, the things you say and pretty much everything you do is irreversibly cached in some way shape or form and can be found if someone wants to find it. If you don’t realize by now, what you say, and WHERE you say it matters.
I know what you are thinking, “Anyone with half a brain would take EVERY precaution to not broadcast their private business in the first place.” (Clueless on the subject? Go here first.) But what seemed like a good idea after three POMtinis can be frighteningly damaging in the cold light of day! If you are foolish enough to broadcast your dirt in the first place, trust me, your mistakes are just waiting be discovered. So how DO you turn it around and make sure the first thing that comes up in Google isn’t an unflattering web picture of you passed out in the bushes? Google yourself. And do it often. Edit/delete/remove anything negative you can. Come up with an answer for everything else. You don’t know what you don’t know, and if you don’t see what’s out there about you, you just simply wont be prepared to handle it. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. You have GOT to take charge of your own reputation.
Think Ahead And Just…Don’t.
What may have seemed like an opportunity to make a quick buck when you were a gorgeous, but starving 20-something year old WILL come back to haunt you when you are interviewing for that next big career move. Forewarned is forearmed: please, please, PLEASE don’t let yourself be the subject of sexy “modeling” pictures, or anything else that could damage your reputation. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that it won’t be found – chances are fairly high that if it’s out there, someone will find it….eventually. Tick someone off at work and, before you know it, your co-worker has morphed into an undercover spy with a vendetta just waiting for the perfect time to plop an incriminating dossier on your boss’ desk. Background checks are par for the course, and Facebook, Twitter, MySpace are a corporate recruiter’s DIY detective kit.
A good rule of thumb: anything you wouldn’t want your Grandma to know about shouldn’t be discoverable by future/current employers or co-workers.
And remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…
So How Much Damage Can Really Be Done in Only 140 Characters?
A little Tweet never hurt anyone, right? WRONG. Even worse, the impact could be greater than just you. Ever read about the ad exec who accidentally “f-bombed” all of his agency’s biggest account’s Twitter followers? (See the story here.) He THOUGHT he was logged in to his own account. OOPS!! What became a massive, life-changing slip up probably took all of three seconds to execute and probably a lifetime to correct. Not only did he lose his job, but got his whole agency FIRED from their biggest account.
Notes to self: 1. DON’T be stupid and careless 2. DO MIND YOUR P’s & Q’s on Twitter and Facebook 3. DO REMEMBER – not all advertising is good advertising. Make sure your words, message, and tone present exactly the kind of image you want to portray to employers – this applies to your “personal” account too!! 4. Make sure your virtual self is a true representation of who you really are - DON’T masquerade as an executive by day and a sex blogger by night!!
Your “personal” Tweets (and all other comments you make online) are PUBLIC information – you may as well put up a billboard or take out a full page ad on the front page of the NY Times!
SO REMEMBER! THE PEN AND TWEET ARE MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD. What seems like an “in-the-heat of the moment “event can have a lifelong, negative impact. Mouthing off on Twitter might feel great for five minutes, but the words you choose can impact your life forever. You decide if that’s positive or negative. Use that power wisely.