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Social media posts can hurt career opportunities

April 4, 2014 | 0 comments


Social media is a living thing and it can have a tail that can help its users or turn around and bite them.

Alexis Nickelotti, the director of online communications for the Wisconsin Beef Council told an audience of young people and their parents that the social media can be a way to stay connected to friends but unflattering posts can mean the difference between a good job and the unemployment line.

Speaking at the recent Wisconsin Livestock Breeders Association annual meeting at the University of Wisconsin's Arlington Agricultural Research Station, she urged those using social media — especially the young members of the crowd who are beginning their careers — to be careful.

"Your life is your life, but you should ask yourself if you would want your grandparents to read what's on your Facebook page."

Posts and blogs can be seen by anyone, including future employers, she said, and once it's there, it's there forever.

"Be aware of what you're posting and think about if it could hurt you later."

Even a simple thing, like posting a picture of yourself with a beer in your hand when you are clearly not 21, could lead to the loss of a career opportunity, she said.

This is especially true for people in civil engineering and criminal justice positions, both of which are offered at the UW-Platteville. "If you're not willing to abide by the laws you would end up enforcing you may not get a chance at those jobs.

"I know of people who have lost out on jobs because of Facebook posts."

Nickelotti urged her listeners to make an effort to "come off as an intelligent" person whenever they post. This means using proper grammar and spelling things correctly.

A future employer may be turned off if a social media site is filled with things that make the job applicant look less intelligent. "People won't take you seriously."

Messages for ag

She also urged people in agriculture to use their positions in social media to reach producers and consumers with messages about modern agriculture. If producers are not in the conversation it will be dominated by those who may think they know something about food production, but really don't.

"There are so many misconceptions about agriculture. It's hard to battle if we're not in the conversation."

Nickelotti cited some farmers and ranchers who have had a strong presence online, like AgProudRyan from Montana who gets into many conversations generated by medical research related to foods.

It's also important to bring people "onto the farm" with things like You tube videos. The Peterson Farm Brothers have had one million views of their video, she said, and it brought a realistic depiction of agriculture to that million people.

"Having more content out there is important for agriculture."

She feels it's more important than ever for farmers and others involved in agriculture to tell their story in an increasingly tech-savvy world.

"It's amazing that people will sit in a line for hours or days for the latest phone, but don't want modern agriculture to use new technology."

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