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Professor examines role of social media in hiring process

| Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Student Diversity Board’s Social Media Committee at Saint Mary’s invited the College’s own Business Professor, James Rogers, to speak about the effect social media can have in a company’s hiring process.

Rogers introduced his discussion by challenging students to ask themselves a single question before posting anything on their social media: “What could possibly go wrong?”

According to Rogers, over 90 percent of employers recruit using info gathered from social media networks.

“They care about the person with whom they’re about to associate,” Rogers said.

In most states, he said, it is legal for an employer to ask for a prospective employee’s social media passwords. Rogers said employers may do this even if it is not a prospective employee’s first job.

“It really is about the rest of your life,” he said.

Rogers said in an average company, the cost of hiring an employee can be greater than $100,000. He asked students to put themselves in the employer’s shoes.

“If they choose to associate with you, their reputation could be on the line,” he said.

Even if a prospective employee were to present themselves well during interviews, Rogers said the final decision may come down to social media. “This could be the make or break point for you,” he said.

Rogers said students should avoid three pitfalls with respect to social media.

The first is to avoid remaining friends on social media with people who may tag you in questionable posts — unfriending someone on social media is not unfriending them in real life, Rogers said.

“You can’t have stuff of theirs tagged with you. It spreads virally,” he said.

Another pitfall to avoid is a boring or nonexistent online presence, Rogers said.

“The competitive process requires us to stand out in a positive way,” he said. “In the end, you want people to find someone who is hirable.”

The final pitfall, according to Rogers, is having a tattoo as one of the first things a potential employer sees on social media.

“I know it sounds unfair and prejudicial,” Rogers said. “But maybe the employer world isn’t going to be excited that this is the first thing they see about you.

“ … I’m not telling you to pretend to be someone you’re not. They look for honesty. I urge you to be as transparent as one can be without placing yourself under peril.”

Rogers said that as negative as social media can be in the hiring process, social media can be positive and provide prospective employees with an advantage.

“You have to drown the negative,” he said. “Find the things that you are passionate about and use that to your advantage.”

Sophomore business major, Kiersten Lieurance, said Rogers’ lecture changed the way she thought about social media.

“I didn’t really think there are positive ways to impact your social media that your job will see or that they would be interested in,” Lieurance said.

Rogers recommended his students accomplish this by simply revealing their values and strengths through social media.

“Get down to the core of what it means to be a Saint Mary’s College student,” Rogers said. “The values that it represents — understanding education, ability, passion, spirituality — bring those things forward in your social media activities.”

Rogers closed his talk with a reminder.

“Our expectation of realistic privacy online is none,” he said.

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