The Daily Iowan

Yerington: Online presence can cause issues for future careers

Online presence is something I rarely think about, but due to a recent misidentity issue I had, I think it’s something that everyone needs to be made more aware of.

Austin J. Yerington, Opinion Columnist

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At the tap of a finger, anyone could find a post from my middle-school years all the way to my most recent professional ventures.

Online presence is something I rarely think about, but due to a recent misidentify issue, I think it’s something that everyone needs to be made more aware of. I recently sat down with a writing coach who I had never met before, and once I was in her office, I was quickly met with “Oh, you’re Austin Yerington.”

She told me that to prepare for our meeting, she Googled me and found another “Austin Yerington” on Facebook and Twitter. After quickly looking at this doppelgänger, she thought I posted quite a few inappropriate images and texts, and she was worried about who she was meeting.

I quickly explained my media handles I go by on social media and was relieved to find out that the accounts she saw weren’t mine. This can be seen as a silly, humorous anecdote or as a worrisome flag about how others, especially employers, see you on social media.

Social media are almost a necessity at this point in time, and because of that, many might forget how it can be a timeline of all their past mistakes and proof of past inappropriate posts. According to a 2017 Huffington Post article, 54 percent of employers saw something on an applicant’s social media that caused them to not hire said applicant. That means, in my case, future employers could have seen content that is inappropriate, illegal, false, or anything else that looks unprofessional.

I was never aware that people may look me up on social media before meeting me, and I was shocked when they mistook me for someone else.

I quickly reviewed some of my past posts, and after seeing some truly cringe-worthy items from my middle-school years, I was pleased with what others could see about me.

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I was left with this one constant thought, though: Anyone could search and find that I shared the new Captain Marvel trailer or even find that I wrote this very article that’s being read. This is something no other generation has ever had to deal with in the past.

At the tap of a finger, anyone could find posts from my middle-school years all the way to my most recent professional ventures. I feel vulnerable and worried about what others may think about some of my posts after years had passed.

This isn’t some article about how to delete all your accounts or turn off all social media, it’s about how we, as users, should monitor our personal and external sides that almost anyone can see. Before applying for a job, you should notify the employer of your correct social-media handles so an issue such as mine doesn’t happen.

In today’s world people can, and do, quickly search you. They may get a look at your digital fingerprint before you ever walk into their office.

 

 

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