By now you have probably heard the news, and if you haven’t, consider this an important newsflash and cautionary tale we need to take very seriously.
This is graduation season, and high school seniors have received their offer letters to colleges and universities across the country. Not only is Harvard the elite of the elite when it comes to Ivy League schools, but it is making front page news, not for the students they have accepted, but for the incoming students they have rejected.
Here is what happened…10 incoming Harvard students joined a private Facebook page and posted offensive comments, memes, and “jokes” about the Holocaust, sexual assault, and the death of children. Harvard’s admissions office discovered the private page and retracted the offers for all 10 incoming freshmen students.
Harvard’s admission’s policy clearly states that is reserves the right to retract an offer if it believes that the individual lacks “honesty, maturity, and moral character.” In a nut shell, Harvard doesn’t deny the right to free speech, but it is imposing very swift and severe consequences for what was said by these 10 individuals.
These 10 high school graduates will NOT be attending Harvard in the fall, and they learned how quickly all of those hopes and dreams can turn into a nightmare. The lesson we can all learn from this tragic example is the awesome power of social media and your online presence. You do have the right to speak your mind and post your comments, but be prepared to suffer serious consequences from college admissions, from recruiters, and from employers who don’t agree with your online message.
Not only is Harvard online watching and reading your posts, pictures, and comments, but so are recruiters, hiring managers, and your boss. Studies show that 92% of recruiters and hiring managers use the information they find on social media to influence their hiring, promoting, and employment decisions.
Just like those 10 kids, your online presence can help or hurt you…it can catapult or kill your career, your professional opportunities, and your reputation. Social media is a fact of life, but you need to manage it like your life depends on it.
You should constantly be scanning, sanitizing, managing, and monitoring your online presence. Not only think twice, but three, four, and five times before you post something. It could be the difference between professional success and professional sabotage.