For the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, this decision was to kneel during the National Anthem. Under the false impression that all minorities would naturally back up his initiative, he ended up leading the project alone. The result was unemployment and public scrutiny.
For candidates, the picture is a bit more personal. Posting drunk pictures on a Friday night or ranting about your boss after a long day will certainly come back to bite you. When it does, you will be sitting at home with Colin Kaepernick, unemployed and reminiscing about your glory days.
What about those of us who naturally move against the grain? Colin Kaepernick assumed that he was reaching for a higher goal of justice. According to Derek Zeller of recruitingdaily.com, his proponents pointed out Kaepernick’s right to freedom of speech and thought. While it is true that Kaepernick had a right to kneel during the national anthem, NFL teams have every right not to hire him for doing so. Freedom works in both directions.
Those who feel that they have a right to rant about their boss are perfectly correct in doing so. However, their boss has a right to fire them for representing the company poorly. Again, freedom is a two-sided coin.
So, what does this mean for the average candidate/employee? What can we learn from Colin Kaepernick’s rise to shame? Let’s take a look:
CONSIDER THE AUDIENCE: Human beings are difficult. By the end of the week, people become tired, irritable, and unmanageable. It is human nature to rant about a long week to a spouse, significant other, or close friend about the ins and outs of daily life at the office. Far too often, however, employees turn to social media as their public diaries. Before letting your emotions get the better of you, consider your audience. How are you representing your company? If you are representing it poorly, why would your boss feel the need to keep you on board? Remember that you are an adult, not an adolescent struggling with puberty on Myspace. Self-control is far too underrated in our society, and candidates continue to pay the price.
CONSIDER YOUR BOSS: Many candidates assume that employers are too incompetent to find pictures from their teenage and young adults years. You know what I mean: the drunk party pictures, the ones with illicit materials, the sexually explicit photos. I have news for you: most employers do find out, and candidates are immediately disqualified from the search for this behavior. Employers are not as behind-the-times as you might think – especially not the ones worth working for.
CONSIDER THE COST: Sure, it might be convenient to post that Facebook picture without your future employer in mind. But is it worth it? Yes, you have the freedom to check in at Jobbie Nooner and post a picture of your ridiculously large shot glass. But in five years, will that have moved your life forward at all? Consider long-term costs over short-term benefit. Yes, your friends might “like” your picture. But they aren’t responsible for your career, are they?
Just as Colin Kaepernick had the freedom to choose between kneeling or employment, candidates have the freedom to choose between social media freedom and employment. His decision cost him his career; yours might, too.