You’ve probably heard what you should do to get a great job or get into a good school. You’ve probably been advised to write a strong resume and include references who will say glowing things about you and your skills, among other things. You’ve even received that advice here in my Careering blogs. It’s all great to know and follow, but today you’re going to get a few pointers about what NOT to do if you want to find school and job success. It’s important that we cover this ground too.
We’ll start with social media because many of you spend a lot of time enjoying Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other electronic platforms. It’s easy to let your guard down and post something you may regret later, so knowing that up front, be vigilant to prevent it from happening. Keep the following in mind:
- Don’t post compromising photos of yourself or friends.
- Don’t use foul language.
- Don’t bully others or say mean things about them.
- Don’t use social media to criticize your current boss or coworkers.
What you post on social media can come back to haunt you. Though your account may be set to “private,” employers and schools can collect information about your social media footprint. Also, what you post can be seen by your followers, so your “friends” could still pass along the info you posted, whether by mouth or through screenshots. Keep yourself out of a compromising position by not posting compromising information in the first place.
Social media is just one arena to be supercareful in. You also shouldn’t text compromising photos or videos of yourself or others to friends or send texts with foul language or derogatory information. You have no idea where your communications may wind up. A text in the wrong hands could mean the end of your college days or career before you even have a chance to start.
In your career quest, also make sure you don’t offend others. In my book, Careering: The Pocket Guide to Exploring Your Future Career, I tell a story about a job candidate who arrived for an interview and treated poorly a person she thought was the receptionist. One of the company’s employees witnessed the bad behavior but didn’t remark on it. Finally, when the candidate sat in front of the interviewer, to her unpleasant surprise she found herself facing the same person who had seen her treat the supposed “receptionist” with derision. I was the interviewer. Needless to say, by that point the candidate didn’t have even a slim chance at the job and the “interview” ended almost as soon as it began.
The moral of this story: Every second of every day, wherever you find yourself, treat every last single person with the utmost respect. One, do it because it’s simply the right thing to do. Two, do it because you have no idea who a person is or who they may become. That high school classmate you sit next to in English could one day be the CEO of a highly successful company conducting business in your chosen career field. Who’s to say? That long-ago connection you have with them could play in your favor if you’re trying to land a job with their company. But if you were the kid who bullied that future CEO or played mean jokes on her, you can probably kiss a shot at working for that company goodbye.
To stay on the right track to landing a good career, you also need to keep your reputation clean and your actions impeccable. That means you DON’T do the following things:
- Don’t do drugs.
- Don’t get into physical or verbal fights.
- Don’t drink alcohol if you are under 21.
- Don’t drink and drive.
- Don’t drive without a driver’s license.
- And there are many other things you should avoid doing.
A friend once told me a story about a college classmate who scored a job interview with one of the premier companies in his chosen career. The hiring managers loved him. But then he took a drug test—standard procedure for this company—and failed. Though he was extremely talented, incredibly intelligent, and genuinely wanted the job, the interviewing process stopped after he failed the test.
Before I end this blog, I want to relay a bit more advice. This may seem incredibly basic, but I am going to say it:
Always be clean. Do not go out in public with dirty hair, a dirty body, or wearing dirty clothes. Even if you’re simply running to the corner store to buy a bag of chips, be clean and wear fresh clothes. You never know who you might run into, and you don’t want to leave negative impressions with others about you or your state of mind.
At every step of the way in your journey, what you DON’T do matters. Always do the right thing.