Twitter Profile as Resume? You are what you Tweet?

I recently came across an article published online by Business Insider titled This Company Will Only Accept ‘Twitter Resumes’ For A Six-Figure JobIt does not come as a surprise to me and it seems quite significant for all of us to recognize the serious personal and professional implications of our activities on twitter and other social media sites. I immediately Tweeted this article on my account. To me it seems like social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can often be viewed as overly casual especially in comparison to the buzz about sites like LinkedIn being the “professional” social media site, but I think it is important to really recognize that our tweets are revealing a lot of relevant information that employers may take into serious consideration prior to hiring.

These quotes from the article ring true to me and I imagine this approach to screening hires will increase in popularity.

“The paper résumé is dead,” Vala Afshar, chief marketing officer at Enterasys,” told Bruce Horovitz at USA Today. “The Web is your résumé. Social networks are your mass references.”

The article continues with some more sage advice for individuals who want to strategically Tweet to portray a professionally advantageous social media image.

Rosa E. Vargas at Careerealism wrote that on Twitter it’s important to use “jargon / keywords specific to your target industry” for a competitive edge, and include hashtags with keywords in your tweets so that you’re more likely to pop up in searches.”

I think it is vital that these messages are disseminated and that it truly sinks in to students beginning with middle school age students at the latest. I have spent a considerable amount of time on Twitter and notice that Twitter is a platform that many use for different purposes from tweeting events and narratives from their daily lives, tweeting to their favorite celebrities about shows they are watching, tweeting to professionals with similar interests, tweeting to legislative officials requesting policy change, tweeting opinions about news stories and ongoing court cases, and though it is easy to see the potential for positive communities forming around common interests it is impossible to miss examples of poor use of Twitter that has ended up ruining educational aspirations, damaging careers, getting people sued, and in worst cases getting people arrested.

The power we each harness as individuals when we go to microblogging platforms like Twitter is palpable. You can get a rush having such immediate ability to direct a Tweet at someone you may have only been able to send a letter to their snailmail fanbox before or send your thoughts out to be received by masses of people. It can be very easy to spout off a personal or political opinion that may bring you long lasting consequences. Sure you can delete a tweet and hope no one noticed or took a screenshot, you can delete and apologize or submit a revised statement but some tweets after screenshots will endure for who knows how many years into the future, so we must all tweet seriously with this in mind.

Whether it’s a musician in her 50’s or teenage football team enthusiasts it seems we all face degrees of risk for long term social and professional consequences by taking tweeting lightly. A couple of the biggest Twitter #Fails recently buzzing to which I am referencing and won’t soon be forgetting:

1) Michelle Shocked – Prior to and during the first set of her live musical performance in San Francisco last weekend she is encouraging users to tweet song requests to her and then shockingly during the second set of her live performance she begins sharing her personal views going into a “homophobic tirade” going so far as to say “You can go on Twitter and say Michelle Shocked said God hates fags”. Shortly after these statements the club venue cleared out, she was asked to leave, a significant number of her future performances were cancelled within 24 hours of this news being shared due to venue managers not wanting to associate themselves with persons disseminating homophobic views, and masses of Twitter users called her out for being so offensive telling her that her music career was now over and to seek mental help.  She has since apologized but time will tell  if her fans memory of the “homophobic tirade” or her apology for it endures and/or holds more weight in their minds.

2) Michael Nodianos –I imagine national news has made sure that everyone has heard about this Steubenville case where teens engaged in a night of drinking and then sexually assaulted an unconscious teenage girl while shockingly leaving trails of evidence by circulating photos, video footage, and rapist enabling narratives on social media sites, Twitter being among them. Some of Nodianos tweets can be seen in screenshots here. While he has not been charged with a crime up to this point he has cited threats by many angry people who perceive his tweets as enabling the rapists. Nodianos has since dropped out of his university due to the number of people who are angry at him, and there is a petition circulating to have him charged with failing to report a rape that he apparently knew was occurring that night. Additionally following the conviction of the two rapists Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, some teenagers who were angry at the verdict took to Twitter to threaten the victim for what they perceived as wrongfully destroying the lives of the young football players by reporting the crime. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has since arrested two girls who posted twitter threats following the case verdict and sets an example stating 

“Let me be clear,” DeWine said on Monday in a statement. “Threatening a teenage rape victim will not be tolerated. If anyone makes a threat verbally or via the Internet, we will take it seriously, we will find you, and we will arrest you,” he added.”

These are only a few recent and serious examples to mention. Let’s all do our best to make sure these and/or similar Twitter #Fails won’t happen to us or our children –and that we do our best to assist youth in the process of understanding the potential risks and rewards of engaging with Twitter and similar sites as we move into the future.

Another article that I came across recently which ties into my points is an article titled The Dos and Don’ts of Teaching Digital Literacy. This article asserts correctly that social media is an essential aspect in the lives of young people now and we should veer away from philosophies and policies which encourage banning the use of social media tools. The analogy used in this article is about teaching young people to drive. Can we appropriately do that by banning them from driving an actual car? Can we effectively teach young people to drive with educators who have never actually driven a car themselves? Most of us will immediately answer “No”. And the same is true for learning the appropriate uses for social media platforms. We can take action to help prevent young people from feeling the painful aftermath of the crash they might find themselves in when left in the driver’s seat of their Twitter account without the proper education and role models. We have to use social media tools, experiment, make mistakes, correct ourselves, engage in honest constructive dialogue with people and give our best effort to set a good example with our presences on social media platforms. We are responsible for the way young people learn to engage with these sites and ultimately leverage them.

For specific age appropriate lessons plans targeted at youth Common Sense Media provides various learning modules on topics such as “Internet Safety”, “Privacy & Security”, “Creative Credit & Copyright”, “Digital Footprints & Reputation”, “Self-Image & Identity”, “Cyberbullying” among many others that have been designed for children as young as elementary school. These lessons plans are high priority for me to expose to my children and any children I should encounter in future digital literacy educational settings and I hope you make good use of them as well.


3 thoughts on “Twitter Profile as Resume? You are what you Tweet?

  1. cybrariansam Post author

    (Yes I realize I am leaving myself a comment) Just read the following links and they seem relevant too. The cascade of events initiated by some conference tweets can be serious.

  2. Deborah Cooper

    Really great insights about tweeting! I’m still not a tweeter but your analogy about using the tools that our teenagers are using so we can understand what’s going on, is excellent. I’m going to make sure I get into whatever my son is into when the time comes! The resources from Common Sense Media are great too.

    The point about being careful what you tweet is well taken. It goes for any platform really–remember the stories early on in Facebook’s history about people getting fired for posting comments about their employer or for posting incriminating photos? However, I think these stories are also contributing to the “fear” of social media that some people have regarding privacy. It’s a fine line in the end.


  3. kallie

    I will definitely be checking out those links on Common Sense Media. I actually really like that site and find it helpful when deciding if movies or books are okay for my kids.

    I actually think using a person’s social media presence as resume is an interesting idea and one that’s not too surprising. Of course I’d never get hired by anyone because I don’t post anything. I have heard of colleges and employees hiring people to check candidates social media pages so in that sense a person’s social media presence is already being used in an evaluative manner. I have a friend who is an alumna of Princeton and does recruiting for them. She said the admissions office won’t look at an applicant’s social media use with their thinking was something along the lines of “a minor shouldn’t be judged based on their youthful ramblings or lack of judgement in using social media.” Really? There’s lack of judgement – posting pictures of a party; and criminal lack of judgement – posting pictures of a party where a girl was raped. And a broad range between the two. What people post on their pages speaks to their character.
    I think it’s a good lesson for everyone to think twice before you post and to recognize that what you post can haunt you long after you’ve posted it. For this reason, I agree that schools need to start teaching digital citizenship earlier. Elementary school would probably be the best place to start because kids are getting into social media, texting, etc. younger and younger. People are so afraid of exposing kids to social media, but it’s here and it’s here to stay. I’m more afraid of the kid who hasn’t taken driving lessons and is behind the wheel than the one who did get lessons.

    P.S. In an earlier response I was trying to come up with the appropriate term for Twitter user (Twitterer, Tweeter, Twit). The last one was a joke and even with a just kidding, I decided to delete it because I did not want to insult anyone. I actually tend to me more self-censoring online than in person because in person there’s the wink, facial expression, shared laugh that implies the tone. Online, you just don’t get that benefit.
    Of course this example is a far cry from a homophobic tirade on Twitter.

    Which brings me to my next thought. If Michelle Shocked thinks God hates gay people, she is allowed to have that belief. And her right to share that belief is technically protected under First Amendment law. I don’t agree with her and I don’t like it, but I don’t have to follow her and neither does anyone else. Hey, if you have a belief; however ignorant and misguided it is, you are allowed to have that belief and share it with whoever you want to. But then don’t be surprised when you lose fans or income or jobs because of it. Don’t be so ignorant and stupid to not realize that not everyone is going to share your belief, want to hear your belief, and still like you if they don’t agree with your belief. And don’t be so stupid to think it’s okay to say “mea culpa” and apologize and that everyone is going to forget what you said. Because everyone knows the only thing you’re sorry for is losing your fans/income/job and not the actual thing you said.


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